Tag Archive for 'Comfort'

Comfort for Suffering Saints by Jerome Zanchius

This is on the web in a few different places. You can read it and download it as a PDF file at box. This blog has the advantage of the roll-overable Scripture references, which were expanded, hopefully working on most computing devices. There is also a link to a short biography of the author. This is based on a Calvinist view of predestination–just as a warning for the more sensitive readers. I hope it benefits you as much as it does me.

COMFORT FOR SUFFERING SAINTS

How the sovereignty of God is a comfort to Christians, acting to remove rather than add to anxiety!

by Jerome Zanchius (1516-1590)

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Romans 8:28-29

Without a due sense of predestination, we shall want the surest and the most powerful inducement to patience, resignation, and dependence on God, under every spiritual and temporal affliction. How sweet must the following considerations be to a distressed believer!

  • There most certainly exists an almighty, all-wise and infinitely gracious God (Hebrews 11:6).
  • He has given me in times past, and is giving me at present (if I had but eyes to see it), many signal intimations of His love to me, both in a way of providence and grace (Ephesians 1:1-23).
  • This love of His is immutable; He never repents of it nor withdraws it (Philippians 1:6).
  • Whatever comes to pass in time is the result of His will from everlasting (1 Corinthians 8:6), consequently—
  • My afflictions were a part of His original plan, and are all ordered in number, weight, and measure (Psalm 22:24).
  • The very hairs of my head are (every one) counted by Him; nor can a single hair fall to the ground but in consequence of His determination (Luke 12:7). Hence—
  • My distresses are not the result of chance, accident, or a fortuitous combination of circumstances (Psalm 56:8), but—
  • The providential accomplishment of God’s purpose (Romans 8:28), and—
  • Designed to answer some wise and gracious ends (James 5:10-11), nor—
  • Shall my affliction continue a moment longer than God sees meet (2 Corinthians 7:6-7).
  • He who brought me to it has promised to support me under it and to carry me through it (Psalm 34:15-17).
  • All shall, most assuredly, work together for His glory and my good, therefore—
  • “The cup which my heavenly Father hath given me to drink, shall I not drink it?” (John 18:11).

Yes, I will, in the strength He imparts, even rejoice in tribulation; and using the means of possible redress, which He hath or may hereafter put into my hands, I will commit myself and the event to Him, whose purpose cannot be overthrown, whose plan cannot be disconcerted, and who, whether I am resigned or not, will still go on to work all things after the counsel of His own will (Romans 5:3-6; Psalm 33:11-12; Ephesians 1:11).

Above all, when the suffering Christian takes his election into the account, and knows that he was by an eternal and immutable act of God appointed to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ; that, of course, he hath a city prepared for him above, a building of God, a house not made with hands, but eternal in the heavens; and that the heaviest sufferings of the present life are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in the saints, what adversity can possibly befall us which the assured hope of blessings like these will not infinitely overbalance? (Proverbs 8:35; 2 Corinthians 5:1; Romans 8:18; Romans 8:33-37.)
“A comfort so divine, May trials well endure.”

However keenly afflictions might wound us on their first access, yet, under the impression of such animating views, we should quickly come to ourselves again, and the arrows of tribulation, would, in great measure lose their sharpness.

Christians want nothing but absolute resignation to render them perfectly happy in every possible circumstance; and absolute resignation can only flow from an absolute belief of, and an absolute acquiescence in, God’s absolute providence, founded on absolute predestination (1 Thessalonians 1:2-4).

Scripture of the Day

It was good for me to be afflicted
so that I might learn your decrees.
The law from your mouth is more precious to me
than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.
Psalm 119:71-72

Though he brings grief,
he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love.
For he does not willingly bring affliction
or grief to anyone.
Lamentations 3:32-33

For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.
2 Corinthians 1:5 NIV

Passage of the Day from The Message

If you don’t like The Message Bible translation, please ignore. Which would also mean no need to comment. Every once in a while I find an interesting one.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 The Message
3 All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel!4 He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.5 We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort-we get a full measure of that, too.

God’s Comfort

Thank God he comforts his own differently than his enemies. Praise God he sent his Son to die and rise again so that when we believe, we will receive the Holy Spirit and be comforted directly by God–never sarcastically as shown below which would almost be humorous if it wasn’t so tragic and horrific.

Another OT example of how much God hates sin and will punish it but also the lengths He’ll go to show his people how much he loves them and is fiercely on their side.

Ezekiel 32:31
When Pharaoh and his entire army arrive, he will take comfort that he is not alone in having his hordes killed, says the Sovereign LORD.

Ezekiel 33:11
As surely as I live, says the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of wicked people. I only want them to turn from their wicked ways so they can live. Turn! Turn from your wickedness, O people of Israel! Why should you die?

2 Corinthians 5:20b
We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”

2 Corinthians 1:3-5
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. 4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 5 For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.

Psalm 23 …your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 23

In Psalm 23 many people equate His rod with discipline. This doesn’t fit the context of the Psalm. Would He make them lie down in green pastures and lead them beside quiet waters and then beat them with a rod?

Verse 4 says: “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me.” (NRSV) A rod of discipline wouldn’t make sense in this context.

God does discipline us as Hebrews 12:5-11 describes. But verse 11 says “Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time,”. When we are in the darkest valley, our Shepherd upholds us and comforts us.

Here are a collection of quotes from commentators.

William Barclay from Jesus As They Saw Him:

He [the shepherd] had his rod and his staff. The staff was a long crooked stick. Always the shepherd walked with it in his hand, and, when a sheep showed signs of straying, he would stretch out and pull it back with the crook. He carried the rod at his belt. It was a stout piece of wood, perhaps three feet long, with a lump of wood the size of an orange at one end of it. With this the shepherd fought the battles of the flock, using it to drive off wild beasts and to defend the flock against the robbers who would steal the sheep.

John Gill:

thy rod and thy staff they comfort me; not the rod of afflictions and chastisements, which is the sense of some Jewish as well as Christian interpreters; though these are in love, and the saints have often much consolation under them; but these are designed by the valley of the shadow of death, and cannot have a place here, but rather the rod of the word, called the rod of Christ’s strength, and the staff of the promises and the provisions of God’s house, the whole staff and stay of bread and water, which are sure unto the saints, and refresh and comfort them. The Targum interprets the rod and staff of the word and law of God; and those interpreters who explain the rod of afflictions, yet by the staff understand the law; and Jarchi expounds it, of the mercy of God in the remission of sin, in which the psalmist trusted: the allusion is to the shepherd’s crook or staff, as in other places; see Micah 7:14; which was made use of for the telling and numbering of the sheep, Lev. 27:32; and it is no small comfort to the sheep of Christ that they have passed under his rod, who has told them, and that they are all numbered by him; not only their persons, but the very hairs of their head; and that they are under his care and protection: the shepherd with his rod, staff, or crook, directs the sheep where to go, pushes forward those that are behind, and fetches back those that go astray; as well as drives away dogs, wolves, bears, etc. that would make a prey of the flock; and of such use is the word of God, attended with the power of Christ and his Spirit; it points out the path of faith, truth, and holiness, the saints should walk in; it urges and stirs up those that are negligent to the discharge of their duty, and is the means of reclaiming backsliders, and of preserving the flock from the ravenous wolves of false teachers: in a word, the presence, power, and protection of Christ, in and by is Gospel and ordinances, are what are here intended, and which are the comfort and safety of his people, in the worst of times and cases.

Adam Clarke:

Thy rod and thy staff – שבטך shibtecha, thy scepter, rod, ensign of a tribe, staff of office; for so שבט shebet signifies in Scripture. And thy staff, ומשענתך umishantecha, thy prop or support. The former may signify the shepherd’s crook; the latter, some sort of rest or support, similar to our camp stool, which the shepherds might carry with them as an occasional seat, when the earth was too wet to be sat on with safety. With the rod or crook the shepherd could defend his sheep, and with it lay hold of their horns or legs to pull them out of thickets, boys, pits, or waters.We are not to suppose that by the rod correction is meant: there is no idea of this kind either in the text, or in the original word; nor has it this meaning in any part of Scripture. Besides, correction and chastisement do not comfort; they are not, at least for the present, joyous, but grievous; nor can any person look forward to them with comfort. They abuse the text who paraphrase rod correction, etc.

Thomas Tymme from The Treasury of David:

“For thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Is God’s “staff” waxen so weak, that we dare not now lean too much thereon, lest it should break? or is he now such a changeling, that he will not be with us in our trouble according to his promise? Will he not give us this “staff” to stay us by, and reach us his hand to hold us up, as he hath been wont to do? No doubt but that he will be most ready in all extremity to help, according to his promise. The Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, saith thus; Fear not, for I will defend thee,” etc. Isaiah 43.

Suffering 2

2 Corinthians

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 is very familiar to me and was mentioned a couple of posts ago. But verse 5 is one that has slipped by me that really stuck out this time.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5
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.

In Garland’s commentary on 2 Corinthians he says, “In describing his sufferings in Christ, Paul pictures a balance sheet of two columns: sufferings of Christ versus comfort through Christ. Ministering in this evil age brings him a surplus of suffering that becomes almost unbearable. But the consolation column also shows a surplus, and it more than balances the suffering.” (ultimately Romans 8:18)

What are sufferings in Christ? Garland says it is in part our being baptized into His death (Romans 6:3), share in His sufferings to also share in His glory (Romans 8:17) and being like Him in His death (Philippians 3:10-11).

If we are to be Christ-like, we will also, like Him deny ourselves, take up our cross daily (Luke 9:23), be poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3) and receive God’s strength through weakness which is a thoroughly counter-cultural view.

Garland quotes Hanson:

…because Christians do not merely imitate, follow or feel inspired by Christ, but actually live in him, are part of him, dwell supernaturally in a new world where the air they breathe is his Spirit, then for them henceforward suffering accepted in Christ must bring comfort, death accepted in Christ must bring life, weakness accepted in Christ must bring strength, foolishness accepted in Christ must bring wisdom.

Comfort

2 Corinthians

2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 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.

In his commentary on 2 Corinthians Garland says, “For us, the word ‘comfort’ may connote emotional relief and a sense of well-being, physical ease, satisfaction, and freedom from pain and anxiety. Many in our culture worship at the cult of comfort in a self-centered search for ease, but it lasts for only a moment and never fully satisfies. Watson* comments that the word ‘comfort’ ‘has gone soft’ in modern English. In the time of Wycliffe the word was ‘closely connected with its root, the Latin fortis, which means brave, strong, courageous.'”

Paul here is talking about encouragement, strengthening, exhortation and help.

*N. Watson, The second Epistle to the Corinthians, Epworth Commentaries (London: Epworth, 1993) 3.