PastorRodney’s Weblog

Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

2 Corinthians 1:3-5; Comforts of the Cross

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.

Job 1:21 …The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”

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

2 Corinthians 1:3 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, …

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:

Matthew 7:14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

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

2 Corinthians 1:3 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.

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.

2 Corinthians 1:3 …the …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.

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.

God’s Comfort

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:

2 Corinthians 1:5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.

The footnote in the ESV suggests another possible translation:

Or For as the sufferings of Christ abound for us, so also our comfort abounds through Christ

Another translation puts it this way:

[LEB] 2 Corinthians 1:5 For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, thus through Christ our comfort overflows also.

[NASB] 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.

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:

Romans 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

We have the comfort of forgiven sin:

Matthew 26:28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Acts 10:43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Ephesians 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,

Colossians 2:13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

We have the comfort of no condemnation:

John 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

We are comforted by the gracious gift of justification:

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. …

We have the comfort of peace with God:

Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

We can take comfort in our reconciliation:

Romans 5:9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

We have the strong comfort of Christ’s righteousness credited to us:

Romans 4:3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,

We can take comfort in the promise of eternal life:

John 5:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

We enjoy the comfort of being adopted as God’s children:

John 1:12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,

Romans 8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

1 John 3:1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. …

We have the comfort of the new birth:

1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

1 Peter 1:23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;

We have the comfort of a promised inheritance:

1 Peter 1:4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Colossians 1:12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

We have the comfort that God is working all things for our good:

Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

We have the comfort that no good thing will be withheld from us:

Romans 8:32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

We have the comfort of being secured with the Holy Spirit:

Romans 5:5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Ephesians 1:13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,

2 Corinthians 1:22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

We have the comfort of Christ living in us:

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Colossians 1:27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

We have the comfort that the Father makes his home with us:

John 14:23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

We have the comfort that Jesus will return for us:

John 14:1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

We have the confident comfort that to be away from the body is to be at home with the Lord:

2 Corinthians 5:6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.

We have the powerful comfort that to die is gain:

Philippians 1:20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.

We have comfort in the promise of physical resurrection:

Romans 6:8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

Romans 8:11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

The comforts of the cross and the sweetness of the gospel are savored most deeply in the midst of sorrow

2 Corinthians 1:3 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.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

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October 19, 2014 - Posted by | 2 Corinthians, occasional, podcast | , , , , , ,

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