Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE GOD OF ALL COMFORT”

Second Corinthians 1.3

 One of the ministry practices here at Calvary Road Baptist Church that distinguishes us from most other churches, but which reflects the practice of so many Baptists and notable evangelists of centuries past, as well as the practice of first century Christians, is our commitment to listening to people after the sermon has been preached. Different than the arm’s length approach that developed in this country as a result of Charles Finney’s unscriptural views in the 19th century, real Christian pastoral ministry engages in what I like to think of as heart work. Heart work can take place when the gospel minister and the individual actually communicate with each other about the important matters of sin and salvation and one’s relationship with Jesus Christ. Where this communication is absent, it is often found that a real relationship with Jesus Christ does not exist.

What I learn from discussing things with sinners frequently results in sermons that address those same matters the following week. So, you can imagine what some discussions have been like from the sermon titles I have preached since July of this year: “The Groans Of A Damned Soul” was preached at camp, as was “The Eternity Of Hell Torments,” “Indecision In Religion,” and “The Contemplation Of Death.” After returning from camp my discussions with the lost led to such sermons as “The Judgment Of The Great Day,” “The Sad Reality That So Few ‘Cool’ Guys Ever Become Christians,” “Total Depravity,” “The Wicked Standing Before The Judgment Seat,” “The Ways In Which Sinners Cover Their Sins,” and “Despisest Thou The Riches of God’s Goodness?”

I discovered in my inquiries that despite preaching on the matter of being reconciled to God, many of the lost people I spoke to are persistent in their belief that God’s goodness is more to be feared that His wrath, and there is thought to be little benefit in knowing Him whom to know is life eternal. My messages were designed to show the certain damnation of those who die without Christ, and the horror of an eternity in the lake of fire. Praise God, a good number seemed to respond to the gospel to the saving of their eternal and undying souls. However, others proved to be entrenched in their erroneous views about God and His nature. Therefore, I began preaching about God several weeks ago, such messages as “The Ancient Heresy Of Modalism Returns” to show God’s triune nature, and “God Is True” and “Jehovah-Jireh” to show that God’s character is unimpeachable. He is the essence of truth and truthfulness, and He showed Himself in His dealings with the patriarch Abraham to be the Provider of whatever His children need. Still, there are those who prefer alienation from Him over reconciliation to Him.

Therefore, this morning I will focus on a different aspect of God’s glorious nature. My text is Second Corinthians 1.3:

 3      Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;

4      Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

5      For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

 Beloved, it would be possible to preach for weeks and weeks on this subject of “the God of all comfort” without ever repeating myself. Perhaps there will come a day when God gives me peace about doing just that. However, for now my goal is to address another misconception sinners have about the nature of the God Who created them. Looking at our text, we see Paul blessing God, “even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort.” Each of those phrases is rich with encouragement and spiritual nourishment. However, Paul seems to elevate God as comforter as his chief concern in this passage. Indeed, God is “the God of all comfort.”

As “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning,” James 1.17, so too every facet and aspect of comfort to your soul also comes, ultimately, from God. Verse 4 declares to us that God comforts us in all our tribulation, suggesting that those who feel comfortless are either unsaved or are not availing themselves of the comfort God does so abundantly supply (meaning they are suffering in a way or to a degree that God does not intend and that is not necessary). Verse 4 also informs of at least a portion of God’s intent in both the tribulation He puts us through and the comfort we derive from Him in the midst of our suffering. “. . . that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”

Do you want to be used of God? Do you want to be useful to God, and also to your brothers and sisters in Christ? Would a man comfort his wife, or a grandfather his grandchild? God comforts us in our tribulation so that we may be able to comfort others . . . using the comfort we received from God to comfort others. How wasteful it is, then, and how neglectful of a God-given opportunity it is, to waste tribulation or some other form of suffering on anything other than preparing to use its benefits to minister to others. Let me illustrate: A couple of years ago a well known Baptist pastor and author by the name of John Piper was diagnosed with a form of cancer. His response was to immediately preach a sermon and write a book urging Christians not to waste their cancer, but to use the comfort they received from God to minister to others. Very close to home, is that not what our beloved Rosa Perez did as she suffered through the fight against cancer that eventually took her life? I remember telling her what none of her doctors was willing to tell her, that barring a miracle from God she would lose her fight against the cancer and that she needed to spend her final days on earth ministering to those around her. My friends, that is exactly what she did. She lived her last few weeks doing what the Apostle Paul wrote about here. What Rosa grasped, and what the Apostle Paul understood and wrote about (“For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.”), is that the more severe the tribulation God plans for you to endure, the greater is His consolation abounding to you by Christ to deal with it. In other words, God will never leave you short of what you need to deal with what you are facing, both for your benefit and for the benefit of others.

You might wonder if the Apostle Paul knew what he was writing about, or if he was speaking hypothetically. Read for yourself in verses 8-9:

 8      For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life:

9      But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead.

It is obvious, is it not, that the Apostle wrote not only by divine inspiration, but also from the personal experiences in his own life that God is the God of all comfort.

With that firmly in our grasp, we should probably ask at this point what comfort is? Is it someone speaking to you and saying, “There, there. It will be all right,” and giving you warm and fuzzy feelings? We need to be careful, since we live in a culture that places a very high priority on feeling good, and a very low priority on solving real problems. We are safest when we turn to God’s Word. In the Greek New Testament are found three closely related words, each formed by joining the Greek preposition for alongside or next to, para, and the Greek word for calling someone, kaleoo:

Parakleseoos is found here in Second Corinthians 1.3 and is a noun that refers to encouraging, exhorting, requesting, appealing, and lifting someone’s spirits by consoling.[1]

Parakletos refers to the person who appears in another’s behalf and serves as mediator, intercessor, and helper.[2]

Parakaleoo is the verb form of these closely related words, and literally means to call to one’s side, and by extension to strongly urge someone, to encourage someone, to request of someone, to instill someone with courage or good cheer, and even to treat someone in an inviting or congenial manner.[3]

It is interesting to note that there are fifteen different Hebrew words found in the Old Testament that are translated “to comfort,” showing the concept of comfort is well developed throughout the Word of God.[4] This should not surprise us in view of the fact that God is the God of all comfort.

In the ancient Gentile world, it was not only recognized as a moral obligation to comfort those in need of consolation, but that the dead and the dying also had a duty to comfort those left behind.[5] Sadly, many today exhibit no sense of duty to those they leave behind in that they prepare no legacy that would in any way comfort or console their remaining loved ones. It was also seen in days gone by that seeking to console yourself is a moral obligation, for only he who can console himself can be an example to others and give them real comfort.[6] “How did one try to comfort the afflicted in antiquity? The means were in the main those still used or recommended to-day: the personal presence of someone who can console and cheer . . . visits to offer sympathy, which in both East and West were conventional from the very earliest of time. . . . From those who paid such visits there was expected esp. a lively expression of sympathy and participation, . . . A letter might take the place of a personal visit. . . .”[7] Does this not remind us of those three men who at first sought to comfort Job in his affliction?[8] Of course, we know that “true consolation (paraklesis alethine, Is 57:18) of the heart comes from God alone. Apart from God, man, nation and world are without comfort.”[9] Psalm 69.20 exposes the futility of seeking consolation apart from God: “I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.”

Is it any wonder so many turn to drugs and booze, fornication and partying, as a means of distraction from their comfortless lives, tragically ending in some cases with suicide? To be sure, the least comfort in this life is far better than the comfortless horrors of hellfire for eternity. The alternative, of course, is the comfort that can only be provided by God. The Apostle Paul declared to his readers that God is the God of all comfort. He is the God of encouraging, of exhorting, and of lifting someone’s spirits by consoling them. Though what he wrote may have been a new truth to the Corinthian Christians, it is hardly a new truth, since God has always been the God of all comfort to His people.

Consider only two things with me as they apply to the God of all comfort:

 First, CONSIDER THE PERSONS OF THE TRINITY

We know there is only one God.[10] However, we also know that the one true and living God exists in the form of three divine Persons, The Father, The Son, and the Holy Ghost. If God were the God of all comfort, one would anticipate that God’s Word speaks to this matter concerning each Person of the Trinity, and one would be right:

First, consider God the Father. How does God the Father comfort? Recognizing that what God does He does with the involvement of each Person of the Trinity, there are nevertheless some activities which more fully show one Person of the Godhead involved than the others. Most prominently, God the Father sent His Son.[11] As well, the Holy Spirit proceeds from Him.[12] Thus, those two divine Comforters are means by which the Father comforts. More on them in a moment. Let me read Isaiah 40.1 to you: “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.” Now, I read Isaiah 66.11 to you: “As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem.” To be sure, both passages predict the fulfillment of God’s comfort by His Son Jesus Christ in the millennium. However, these words of comfort to the people were given seven centuries before the birth of Christ, and show God the Father comforting Israel with His words.

Next, consider the Lord Jesus Christ. In John 14.16, the Lord Jesus Christ spoke to His disciples the night before His crucifixion, and told them, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.” As we shall see, His comments about “another Comforter” are in reference to the Holy Spirit. However, the word “another,” translating the Greek word alloV, which means another of the same kind, as opposed to eteroV, which refers to another of a different kind, shows that Jesus considered Himself as much a comforter as the Holy Spirit would be when the Father sent Him.[13] Throughout His earthly ministry, did the Lord Jesus Christ comfort and encourage, provide consolation and exhortation, when He preached and taught, when He counseled and worked miracles, when He cleansed of leprosy and fed the multitudes, and when He raised the dead? How about this? Did the Lord Jesus Christ provide comfort when He rose from the dead, when He forgave my sins, and when He promised to come again for me? Did God the Father comfort me by giving me to His Son Jesus Christ?

As well, consider the Holy Spirit of God. The Lord Jesus Christ identifies the Holy Spirit of God as that other Comforter four times in John’s gospel:

14.16-17    And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth. . . .

14.26        But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

15.26        But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.

16.7          Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.

Does the Holy Spirit comfort the child of God in whom He dwells from the instant of his conversion, Romans 8.9? He comforts by leading, by guiding, by living inside the believer, by being the seal of our inheritance and the earnest of our redemption, Ephesians 1.13-14. He also comforts by assuring us of our relationship with Christ and interceding for us in prayer, Romans 8.16 and 26, as well as by gradually transforming our personalities by means of the fruit He produces over time, Galatians 5.22-24. Thus, God the Father comforts by sending the comforting Spirit of God to each believer. The Persons of the Trinity truly are the God of all comfort.

As Well, CONSIDER THE PROVISIONS FOR COMFORT

We know, and I will leave it to you to look up in your Bible, that God comforts us when we are discouraged, when we experience failures, when we suffer the betrayals that we all experience, and when we pass through afflictions of various kinds, as we see in our text. We even find that when God chastens His children, the entire painful process of getting a spanking from God is comforting and encouraging in that it reaffirms the relationship we have with Him, Hebrews 12.5-11.

These things understood, let me briefly review some of the means used by the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit of God to comfort the believer, in no particular order:

First, there is Providence. I define Providence as the unseen hand of the invisible God moving behind the scenes in the lives of men to accomplish His will. Have you ever detected an alteration of the pattern of things that you recognized to be God’s Providence? I have, on many occasions. Something happening, unpredictable, unusual, inexplicable, but not a miracle, that delivered you from grief or sorrow, or that spared you pain or tragedy. Oh, how comforting. There is no such thing as coincidence. There is no such thing as chance. There is Providence.

Next, there are people. Sometimes you are comforted by the words someone speaks to you, Ephesians 4.29: “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” As well, look at Ephesians 6.22: “Tychicus . . . Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts.” Sometimes you are comforted by the conduct of another person. This particularly applies to me, since my whole life is about faithfulness and consistency. My spirits can plunge when someone who should be here is not. My spirits soar when I see someone who is here despite difficulty, despite travail, and who demonstrates dependability. Turn to Hebrews 10.25, where we read, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Of course, that refers to church attendance, with the word “exhorting” translating our Greek word for comforting. Being in church is a crucial part of both comforting others and being comforted yourself.

Third, there are passages . . . in God’s Word. Every difficulty you face is somehow related to the size of your God, and when you plunge into God’s Word, you lift back the veil of appearances to behold reality, where God looms large, and majestic, and powerful, and victorious, and sovereign. Do you have passages in your Bible that you resort to? You should. Go looking for the ones that show God to be big, that show God to be powerful, that show God to be tender and kind and merciful. Such passages will have an effect on you when you need comfort, I promise you.

Fourth, there are promises . . . in God’s Word. Any portion of scripture is beneficial, but there are places where God makes promises that are so very helpful to the brokenhearted and the downcast. Psalm 42.5 asks the question, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me?” The psalmist then answers his queries with these words: “hope thou in God.” Hope is understood as the confident expectation of future blessing, based upon the promises of God. That being understood about hope, we see that there is no valid reason to be cast down or to be disquieted. Certainly, then, God’s promises provide comfort even in the darkest hours. Are you facing death, as David faced death? Behold the promise of God’s companionship in Psalm 23.4: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Are you greatly afflicted, as was Paul? Behold the promise of God’s purpose for it in Second Corinthians 1.4: “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” Feel like giving up? There is the promise of Christ’s coming, in First Thessalonians 4.18: “Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” And what about First Thessalonians 5.9-11?

9      For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

10     Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.

11     Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

Finally, there are what I refer to as provocations. They are people, like I mentioned earlier, but these are people who are very special. I would include here the martyrs of the Christian faith, such as Stephen, and the Apostle James, and James the brother of Jesus, and Peter and Paul, as well as the others. I would also include those around the world in days gone by (and in our own day) who suffered for Christ’s sake, and some who even died for the testimony of Christ, who I have never met but look forward to seeing in heaven. These would be those folks mentioned in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs and those who have been called to our attention by The Voice of the Martyrs who are presently suffering and dying for Jesus in other parts of the world. How do such wonderful Christians as Saleema (whose picture can be seen below) comfort me? Her life, her testimony, her steadfast determination to serve God despite the persecution she has endured puts a fire in my belly and shames my tendencies to feel sorry for myself. How can I be a discouraged quitter when that young lady who has suffered far worse keeps on keeping on?

That God is the God of all comfort is firmly established. That He comforts by various means is also firmly established. What I leave you with is a reminder of the personal responsibility God has left with each of us to not only seek comfort when we need it, but also to position ourselves to provide comfort to others when they need it. God is the God of all comfort. His children, therefore, are comforted and also comfort others.

 

 


 

Her name is Saleema



[1] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), page 766.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid., pages 764-765.

[4] Gerhard Kittel, Editor, Theological Dictionary Of The New Testament, Vol V, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1967), pages 776-777.

[5] Ibid., page 781.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid., page 782.

[8] Job 2.11ff

[9] Kittel, page 789.

[10] Deuteronomy 6.4; First Corinthians 8.4; First Timothy 2.5

[11] John 3.16

[12] John 15.26

[13] Bauer, pages 46-47, 399.



Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org