References: John 14:16-18
Solitude comes in many forms of aloneness and loneliness. Some people desire a fairly isolated life; others love to be around people. Sometimes solitude is forced on someone, like punishing a child by sending them to the basement for a time, or punishing a prisoner by putting them in isolation.
One of the sad circumstances resulting from the pandemic is the isolation of the elderly. God has not created man to be alone. We see this first in the relationship between God Himself and man. That vertical relationship resulted in a horizontal relationship; Adam was alone and God gave him Eve. God put Adam and Eve in the garden, where they could enjoy life in the presence of God.
Now think about what happened when sin entered the picture. It caused Adam to hide from God. God put Adam out of the garden. When Cain became a murderer, God’s punishment was to send Cain from the presence of God, and Cain declared the separation was more than he could bear.
Ever since the fall, man has sought to get away from God, yet that only brings misery. God, in His mercy, does not leave man apart from Himself. When Adam and Eve were hiding, God came to them with the promise of new life. This promise eventually led to the coming of Christ, Immanuel, God with us. So in Christ, we see the reversal of what happened in the garden. This includes a new relationship between you and God, which results in a relationship between you and fellow believers.
Thus, in the reality of creation and the restoration of salvation, it is normal for you and me to be in a relationship with God. In fact, we should depend on that relationship. At the end of Genesis 4, it is clear that a characteristic of godly people is meeting God in worship.
The unbeliever seeks to live without God, but ultimately cannot avoid Him. You, the believer, have been restored to God. Now we want to see the implications of restoration by means of the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Given by the Father
When we think of the word “comfort” in the catechism, “What is your only comfort in life and in death?” it is based on what God has done for you, for His people, even as He announced to Adam and Eve. In our progression through Q&A #1, we have unfolded those layers in detail. The issue yet remaining, as we continue with this series, is this: how will God make what He has done real for me, in my heart and life? How will He do that for you?
As we proceed, let us consider a helpful illustration. Think, on the one hand, that there is the objective comfort (the work of redemption). It is important, but it does not actually provide comfort if it is simply available. In addition, there is the application, embracing the comfort; that is faith. You believe the objective truth, and it becomes real for you. Comfort needs to involve both.
We find a reference to the Holy Spirit. The reference explains how He assures us of eternal life; that is the work of faith. But for the moment, we will concentrate on the Holy Spirit Himself.
Wherefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life.
Who is He, what does He do? Read John 14:16-18 (ESV):
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
Jesus says, I will pray, or request, of the Father to send another Helper. If there is anything which has been made clear in this first question of the catechism, it’s that salvation is of God. Solely by the free grace of God, you have comfort. Part of that comfort includes the gift — requested by the Son, sent by God the Father — of the Holy Spirit, so that the comfort might be real for you.
Blog post content taken from a sermon series delivered by Dr. Maynard Koerner, President and Professor of Ministerial Studies at Heidelberg Theological Seminary.