References: Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 1; John 1:29-34; Rom. 8:31-39
Comfort based on the continuation of relationship with God
Okay, the announcement is given, the remedy provided, and we are reconciled with God. But what about tomorrow? With human relationships, reconciliation can be lost very quickly when new issues arise.
In fact, we know that the captives in Babylon had formerly been right with God in Israel. Is there not a cause for concern? When they have been brought back into their land and restored to God, might not the relationship be broken again?
In your life, when you know you are right with God, what do you rely on for staying there? If you wonder if you’ll grow lazy in worshiping God or turn away from him, or if you simply worry about–that is not much comfort, is it?
Providing a Shepherd who will protect
The prophet Jeremiah in chapter 31, addressing to the captives about their return, speaks of a new covenant for all believers (also referenced in Hebrews 8). God will make a new covenant which will change their hearts. Jesus Himself said in John 6:39, “This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me, I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.” The message of comfort is so much greater than reconciliation. The covenant God promised to the children of Israel in Exodus 19 that He would be their God, and they would be His people.
We all know Psalm 23, but do you understand what it is really saying? Jesus is your Shepherd who will keep you, and you will not be lost again. The “comfort,” God’s message to you, declares God’s work of reconciliation is certain and sure and will not fail.
As servants for the king
It will not fail because He is your God, but also you are His people. You do not remain at odds with God. Certainly God does not remain angry with you–that is not much of a message of comfort. He has brought you into His kingdom.
Our world holds strife; many things concern us. We struggle with issues like finances or health which are not necessarily joyful and comforting. But for believers who truly possess this comfort, even serious troubles are not life’s essence. We eagerly anticipate the joy we will know one day in Christ’s presence in eternity. But know that God has given you the privilege of living your life now before Him. To be a servant in His kingdom now.
Think about what that actually means. God’s comfort for you is to live a life in which you bring honor and glory to the name of Christ in His kingdom. All things work together for good to them that love God (Rom. 8:28). Your very struggles, the tears of life, are for good. Take comfort in those things.
Comfort based on living in the relationship with God
We now turn to the issue which the church has struggled with throughout history. Has God taken care of everything? If my life, by obedience, does not in any way count towards being right with God, what difference does it make how I live?
The question drills down to a deeper issue: why should I not be concerned and bothered (suffer a lack of comfort) about when I know I have sinned? When I struggle with temptation and don’t meet the standard of perfection, how can I be comfortable about that?
The beginning of eternal life
There remains yet one more great part to this comfort. Reconciliation is not just about everything up to now. The message of comfort covers every sin you’ve committed and ever will commit. Understanding that means knowing your life is not about continuing to keep right with God.
That is the comfort. It’s not about some future day. You are presented with the comfort that new life, eternal life, begins now when you are regenerated.
Living under God’s blessings
We equate comfort in terms of the benefits received. Well, you have received blessings of God’s grace, and those blessings include God’s work in your heart. That does not mean we stop concerning ourselves with sin and the law of God as a standard of life. God gives significant warnings against sin. How you live is absolutely important. For example, Paul told the new believers in Ephesus to stop stealing.
Yet all of that is the message of comfort: God provides for you to live a thankful life.
The birth of Christ is the comfort provided by God. This comfort exists not in gifts, parties, or decorations–it exists in the Savior, who came to restore the lost. When we celebrate Christ’s coming, let us celebrate the comfort of being reconciled with God.
Blog post content taken from a sermon series delivered by Dr. Maynard Koerner, President and Professor of Ministerial Studies at Heidelberg Theological Seminary.