Comfort Of The Scriptures: Vol 1

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Comfort Of The Scriptures: Vol 1, Rom 15:4

The Message Heeded

From Ephesus Paul set forth on another missionary tour, during which he hoped to visit once more the scenes of his former labors in Europe. Tarrying for a time at Troas, “to preach Christ’s gospel,” he found some who were ready to listen to his message. “A door was opened unto me of the Lord,” he afterward declared of his labors in this place. But successful as were his efforts at Troas, he could not remain there long. “The care of all the churches,” and particularly of the church at Corinth, rested heavily on his heart. He had hoped to meet Titus at Troas and to learn from him how the words of counsel and reproof sent to the Corinthian brethren had been received, but in this he was disappointed. “I had no rest in my spirit,” he wrote concerning this experience, “because I found not Titus my brother.” He therefore left Troas and crossed over to Macedonia, where, at Philippi he met Timothy. {AA 323.1}

During this time of anxiety concerning the church at Corinth, Paul hoped for the best; yet at times feelings of deep sadness would sweep over his soul, lest his counsels and admonitions might be misunderstood. “Our flesh had no rest,” he afterward wrote, “but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears. Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus.” {AA 324.1}

This faithful messenger brought the cheering news that a wonderful change had taken place among the Corinthian believers. Many had accepted the instruction contained in Paul’s letter and had repented of their sins. Their lives were no longer a reproach to Christianity, but exerted a powerful influence in favor of practical godliness. {AA 324.2}

comfort of the scriptures

comfort of the scriptures

Paul had apparently noticed the amazing changes in the believers at Corinth. His detailed accounting of this change can serve as a source of both guidance and comfort for God’s people today. Paul made a special point of mentioning the “comfort of Titus,” and there is little doubt in the OT Scripture as well about the solid place in Bible history for comforting one another. The Psalmist also seemed to be a believer in God’s people comforting one another:

“I was very worried. But your comfort brought joy to my heart.” Psalms 94:19, NiRV)

There have been moments in the experience of each of us when our hearts have longed for comfort. The word most frequently used for “comfort” in the Old Testament would imply something of this deep inward desire, expressing itself so often in a sigh.

The first mention of the word comfort in the Bible is found on the lips of Lamech as he named his son — Noah. His utterance in Gen 5:29 intimates that he was feeling the sorrows of a cursed earth, and looked forward to something in which he could find rest or repose, as the name Noah signifies. Alas! the world in Noah’s day was morally unaltered; it was unable to afford any comfort to the hearts of men; even after the flood it lay under the divine indictment “the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth,” (Gen 8:21).

The history of God’s earthly people shows very plainly the forlorn and comfortless condition into which they came as turning their backs upon God. “How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! . . she hath none to comfort her” (Lam 1:1-2). “The comforter that should relieve (or, revive) my soul is far from me,” (Lam 1:16). To this day they remain bereft and comfortless, but we see from Isaiah, Zechariah and other Scriptures that God has “good and comfortable words” in view for them, and when their “day of salvation’ (Isa 49:1-26) shall have come, brought by the “beautiful . . feet of Him . . that announceth salvation” (Isa 52:1-15), then shall they “break forth into joy” singing “the Lord hath comforted His people, He hath redeemed Jerusalem.”

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In Psalms 23:1-6, which has been a solace to the people of God throughout the centuries, the Psalmist says “Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.” The rod (or, sceptre) conveys the thought of correction and the staff that of support, but the comfort itself is experienced because both correction and support are known as in the company of the Shepherd, for the verse reads, “Thou art with me: Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.” As we pass through a scene unable of itself to yield any element of comfort, and filled as it is with all kinds of moral dangers, how comforting it is to know that the “Sceptre shall rise” and destroy all that is found in opposition to God and to His people (Num 24:17), and will also maintain that which is right and consistent with His own nature (Psalms 45:6).

There are many Scriptures which convey the thought of comfort as connected with the rod of the Lord. In Ezekiel 20:37 we read, “I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant.” Again in Jer 33:13-14, Jehovah speaks of His flock as counted under the rod, saying “I will perform that good thing which I have promised.”

Then, too, in Micah 7:14, we have the words, “Feed Thy people with Thy rod, the flock of Thine heritage.”

As we contemplate the comfort which God has in mind for His earthly people as passing them under the rod, dealing with them thus because they are His, shall we not value with increased appreciation the grand objective which the Lord has in view for His people in our own day as He passes us under the rod of correction, removing in the chastening that which is inconsistent with Himself in order that “we might be partakers of His holiness,” (Heb 12:1-29).

What positive comfort such words are to the heart that truly loves the Lord, and desires to be here for His interests.

In his second letter to the Corinthian believers the apostle Paul speaks of God as the “Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort.” This is a most precious title, and whilst the word used carries with it more the thought of encouragement, the two meanings are not unrelated to each other. Our source of comfort and of encouragement is in God Himself. What perfect understanding the blessed God has of all our needs, and what infinite resources from which he can meet those needs, ministering comfort to our hearts in doing so.

As encouraged by Him it is our happy privilege to act in like manner towards others, and how extensive the circle of those needing comfort is! “Who comforteth us in all our tribulations, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” How precious a service! perhaps rendered in obscurity, but valued by God who is Himself the Source of all encouragement.

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A letter to a bereaved saint; a visit to the sick-bed; a word of cheer to the depressed; a helping hand to the harassed and weary; a word of encouragement to the young in the faith. In many and various ways the comfort wherewith we ourselves have been comforted can be ministered to others.

In Rom 15:4, we read of the “comfort of the Scriptures.” Here again the word has the force of encouragement. In Psalms 119:1-176, in which we have some 174 verses containing references to the word of God (expressed by several different words, but all referring to His word), the Psalmist in Psalms 119:50 uses the usual word for comfort, “This is my comfort in my affliction; for Thy word hath quickened me.” Again in Psalms 119:76 and Psalms 119:82 the thought of comfort is connected with the word of the Lord.

In a world so full of perplexity and uncertainty, where people’s hearts are surely “failing them for fear,” how thankful we are to have recourse to the Holy Scriptures. What comfort and encouragement is ours as we see in them the mind of the blessed God revealed, and the outpourings, too, of His eternal heart of love. The evil rampant in the world is all under the eye of God; nothing is out of control, all will be judged and removed for ever. Our souls can rest in His love and His power.

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path,” (Psalms 119:105). “Truly the light is sweet” says the Preacher (Ecclesiastes 11:7), and in this scene of moral darkness what comfort there is in possessing the pure light of the unalterable word of God, a lamp for each footstep, and our whole pathway illumined by the light of God.

The word of God is food for the soul; it is refreshment to the thirsty; it is the source of strength for the overcoming of the “wicked one” (1Jn_2:14). Untold comfort and encouragement is to be found in the Scriptures.

In Acts 9:31 we read of “the comfort of the Holy Ghost,” He who is Himself the “Comforter.” This was something known and appreciated by the early believers in a very practical sense, it was no mere theory or doctrine, they “were walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost.” As indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God untold wealth is available to us in this the Spirit’s day.

Many Scriptures speak of the service of the Holy Spirit, but the words of the Lord Jesus Himself in John 14:1-31, John 15:1-27, John 16:1-33 as He speaks of the Comforter, manifest His tender consideration for His own during the time of His absence from them. That which He predicated of the Holy Spirit is for us to enjoy, a divine Person with unlimited power and affection abides with us for ever. He knows our every thought and desire, and is ever ready to engage our affections with the glories of Christ. Thus immeasurable comfort is ours as we are found walking in the power of an ungrieved Spirit.

1 Cor 14:3 refers to a ministry of comfort, or encouragement, which is to characterise the service of those who serve the saints of God. “He that prophesieth speaketh unto men in edification, and exhortation, and comfort.” This is a challenge to each of us. Fleshly zeal and human wisdom could never effect this. How necessary then to be ourselves in the enjoyment of the “comfort of the Scriptures,” and to know in reality and power the presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit of God, the Comforter, in order that any service rendered by us may be for the encouragement of those whom we serve.

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Finally, we have the precious verse in 1 Thes 4:18. The apostle in that chapter had been enlarging upon the details in connection with the Rapture, that wonderful moment the thought of which thrills the hearts of all who love the Lord, and he concludes by saying “Wherefore comfort (or, encourage) one another with these words.” Beloved brethren, what a ministry of comfort is open to each of us, as we take up this exhortation. This world is moving with increased acceleration towards the day of judgment; the spirit of anti-Christ is already abroad; persecution is the portion of “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus;” “evil men and seducers” are waxing “worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived,” but the end for the believer is sure and glorious. “The Lord Himself shall descend . . we . . shall be caught up . . and so shall we ever be with the Lord” .

Thus the position abounds with comfort. Many things of necessity occupy our minds, but let us in reality say with the Psalmist, “In the multitude of my thoughts within me Thy comforts delight my soul,” and as thus delighting in what God is to us, may we be able in power to comfort others “by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”

“He comforts us in all our troubles. Now we can comfort others when they are in trouble. We ourselves have received comfort from God.” “We share the sufferings of Christ. We also share his comfort.” (2 Cor 1:4-5).

The Father’s Predestined Ministry of Comfort and Hope to His Servants – In 2 Cor 1:3-7 Paul explains the ministry of the Father in comforting His servants in the midst of their tribulations and sorrows (2 Cor 1:3-7). In this passage, Paul expresses his steadfast assurance of the Father’s willingness through His divine foreknowledge to comfort all who suffer for His name sake. Throughout 1 Cor 1:3-7 Paul is going to make a clear distinction between himself and his traveling companions and between the believers as Corinth and throughout Achaia. He will use the words “our” and “your” in reference to the way God has chosen the apostles to suffer in behalf of the body of Christ. Theirs, as apostles of Christ, is a life of greater suffering in order to bring about perfection and maturity to the body of believers. Thus, Paul will use himself throughout this epistle as an example of one who partakes of the sufferings of Christ in order to build up the body of Christ. (taken from Gary H Everette’s 2013 edition of Study Notes On The Holy Scriptures).

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