Hope in God’s Comfort

Dr. Steve Viars July 26, 2020 2 Corinthians 1
Outline

Hebrews 12:2 - …fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

2 Corinthians 7:2-9 - Make room for us in your hearts; we wronged no one, we corrupted no one, we took advantage of no one. I do not speak to condemn you, for I have said before that you are in our hearts to die together and to live together. Great is my confidence in you; great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort; I am overflowing with joy in all our affliction. For even when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side: conflicts without, fears within. But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus; and not only by his coming, but also by the comfort with which he was comforted in you, as he reported to us your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me; so that I rejoiced even more. For though I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it—for I see that that letter caused you sorrow, though only for a while— I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us.

3 reasons to have hope in tribulation

I. Have Hope in God’s Character – vv. 1:1-4a

A. The One who transforms us into His messengers – v. 1a

  1. Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus
  2. Timothy our brother

B. The One who is building His church – v. 1b

2 Corinthians 1:1 - …To the church of God which is at Corinth with all the saints who are throughout Achaia…

church – ekklasia

ek – “out of”, kalew – “to call”

C. The One who offers both grace and peace – v. 2

2 Corinthians 1:2 - Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

“The title ‘Lord Jesus Christ’ summarizes all of His redemptive work. ‘Lord’ describes His sovereign deity; ‘Jesus’ (the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew name Yeshua; ‘God saves’) describes His saving death and resurrection; Christ (‘anointed one’) describes Him as the King who will defeat God’s enemies and rule over the redeemed earth and the eternal state.” (John MacArthur, 2 Corinthians, p. 19)

D. The One who is our blessed Father – v. 3

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

E. The One who always comforts us – v. 4a

2 Corinthians 1:4 - …who comforts us in all our affliction…

comfort - parakalew

para – “alongside”, kalew – “to call”

Revelation 3:20 - Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.

James 4:8 - Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

II. Have Hope in God’s Purpose – 4b – 7

A. So we can comfort others – 4b

2 Corinthians 1:4 - …who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction…

B. With a source that is supernatural – v. 5

2 Corinthians 1:4 - who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

C. Which grounds our hope for others – v. 7

2 Corinthians 1:7 - …and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 - Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.

III. Have Hope in God’s Deliverance – 8-11

A. Even when the burden is excessive – v. 8

2 Corinthians 1:8 - For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life.

2 Corinthians 4:7-11 - But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

B. By choosing not to trust in ourselves – v. 9-10

2 Corinthians 1:9-10 - …indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope.

C. Inviting others to be God’s instrument in our lives – v. 11

2 Corinthians 1:11-…you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many.

- often people ask me if I like to travel…

- my standard answer is yes, and it’s been disappointing this year, humanly speaking because I had to cancel 5 international trips along with quite a few domestic engagements as well…

- like many things I suppose, you don’t realize how much you enjoy something until you’re unable to do it anymore…

- however, that answer probably needs some clarification…

- when I say I like to travel, I’m not saying that I particularly enjoy the drive back and forth from the Indy airport…I’ve pretty much seen everything that can be seen on that trip…so I’m not sure that’s enjoyable…

- or going through the process of finding a place to park…I’m not sure I’ve ever broken out in spontaneous laughter at the Park and Drive place…

- or standing in line to go through security…

- or paying airport food prices…

- or perhaps one of everyone’s favorites…waiting to see if there will be any more carry on space left above the seats by time you board the plane…

- so for everyone who travels – when you stop and think about it – there’s a lot that is not particularly enjoyable…

- but why would I have answered the way I did?...for me and I think many in a similar situation…the joy doesn’t come from the process…but it comes from the product, or the result…

- I have the privilege of meeting people around the world, and making new friendships, and hopefully having some kind of positive influence in their lives spiritually…

- so the product, or the result – is worth the process…

- over the years I’ve tried to train my mind as I leave my house on one of those trips to consider and celebrate the people I would have the privilege of serving…imagining the conversations, the questions, the mutual learning, the life-long friendships…[product over process…]

- it’s the same thing the writer of Hebrews said about our Lord…Hebrews 12:2 - fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

- so the joy of what was accomplished at Calvary, namely the salvation of all who would repent and believe in His substitutionary death for our sins, made enduring the pain and the horror and the shame of the cross worth it in His eyes…

- now, let’s think about that through the lens of some of our current difficulties…

- are you enjoying COVID 19?...

- are you enjoying the current election cycle in our country?...

- are you enjoying the ongoing racial tension?...

- along with many personal issues that may or may not be directly to those first three big ticket items?...

- and many of us, if we were honest might say – of course not, because I’m too busy worrying about one or more of them…or I’m too busy being afraid of one or more of them…

- maybe that’s because we’re too focused on the process and not enough on the product…

- if we can learn to find comfort during these trying times, what kind of impact might that position us to have and in the days ahead?...

- and if we focused more on the potential product…or result…or positive impact on others in the name of our Savior…would it change the way we thought about the journey we had to take in order to get to that destination?...

- with that in mind, please open your Bible to 2 Corinthians chapter 1 this morning…

- by the way, one of your faithful church members put me in my place pretty well the other day…

- he texted me and then said, I hope I’m not interrupting you…to which I responded, no problem – I’m just working on Sunday’s message and each interruption adds 5 minutes to the sermon, would you like to keep talking…

- to which he replied, that’s the beauty of watching on-line, I just fast forward to the invitation – I don’t need an hour to know I need to repent…I can be done in 5 minutes and on the back porch with a cup of coffee…

- that’s one of the occupational hazards of being a televangelist…

- this summer we’re talking about Overcoming Fear and Worry

- and in all seriousness, I know that many of us would say that we have really needed what God’s Word has had to say to us through these passages…I appreciate the hard work our pastoral staff has put into these presentations…

- this morning we are looking at the first chapter of what is by far Paul’s most personal letter…

- he has a lot of history with the church at Corinth…

- he started the church along with Silas and Timothy during his second missionary journey recorded in Acts 18…

- after leaving the city he heard the troubling news that problems had arisen in the church…

- in response, Paul wrote a letter that was “non-canonical” -- is not part of the Bible and does not exist anymore…but we know it happened because Paul alludes to it in 1 Cor 5:1…

- then when Paul was on the third missionary journey, he heard about more conflict in the church, and they had written to him with a series of questions…

- that’s when he wrote the letter we refer to as 1 Corinthians…

- then an even greater problem developed…because a group of false teachers entered the church claiming to be sent by the church at Jerusalem…

- the method they used to justify their heresy was to try to discredit Paul and his ministry…

- that’s when Paul made what we refer to as his “painful visit” – if you peek at 2 Cor 2:1…you see an allusion to that…admittedly that visit did not go well…

- Paul then wrote what is called the “severe letter” and had Titus deliver it to the church at Corinth…that one doesn’t exist either, but 2 Cor 2:4 speaks about that one…what was so painful was not just that false teachers tried to infiltrate this young church…but that many in the church sided with the false teachers against Paul…

- so he began to make his way back to Corinth…and that’s when he met Titus who was coming back with the wonderful news that many in the church repented when they read Paul’s “severe letter”…and they wanted to follow him and the gospel he had originally taught…

- it’s in that frame of mind that he sits down and in the middle of the letter he says…

- 2 Corinthians 7:2–9 - Make room for us in your hearts; we wronged no one, we corrupted no one, we took advantage of no one. I do not speak to condemn you, for I have said before that you are in our hearts to die together and to live together. Great is my confidence in you; great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort; I am overflowing with joy in all our affliction. For even when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side: conflicts without, fears within. But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus; and not only by his coming, but also by the comfort with which he was comforted in you, as he reported to us your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me; so that I rejoiced even more. For though I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it—for I see that that letter caused you sorrow, though only for a while— I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us.

- now with all of that in mind, let’s back up and read a portion of chapter 1, looking for 3 reasons to have hope in tribulation.

- read 2 Cor. 1:1-11

- we’re talking this morning about Hope in God’s Comfort…and now let’s work our way through these verses and find 3 reasons to have hope in tribulation.

I. Have Hope in God’s Character – vv. 1:1-4a

- every one of us has to decide where we’re going to try to find our comfort…and it would appear that we’re about to be put in a vice the next several months…

- so as we think back over the last 4-5 months, or consider the next 4-5 months…where will you find comfort?...

1. for the person who would say – well, in the return of everyone to school and the normalization that comes with routine schedules in the fall…those of us who find comfort in routine could be in trouble, huh?...

2. or what if you say – with the return of college and professional sports…I can’t wait to get back to Ross Ade on one of those cold fall days with a hot dog in one hand and some cheese fries in the other and get huddled up with a large group of fans as we cheer the Boilers to victory…who knows what sports might look like…

3. or, I’ll take comfort if my candidate wins the election…

4. or, when I convince everyone on my FB feed about the superiority of my social justice views…

5. or in alcohol or drugs or illicit sex…

6. or the development of a vaccine…

7. or, just a whole lot of food…in fact, we even have a name for it, don’t we?...comfort food…

- the alternative provided in this passage is to learn to find comfort in the unchanging character of our God…did you see the marvelous ways He is described in these verses?...

A. The One who transforms us into His messengers – v. 1a

- Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus

- everything about the way Paul responds to tribulation is considered through the lens of the ministry to which he had been called…

- and even when some in the Corinthian church, perhaps many at least for a period of time, had rejected Paul and his ministry…pleasing them and receiving their approval was not where he was seeking to find comfort…

- he was an apostle of Christ Jesus because God had called him to that position on the Damascus Road…and he never got over the miracle of his conversion and the privilege it was to potentially impact others with the same life-changing gospel…

- Paul also had a man at his side whose life demonstrated the truth of that principle…who was it?...Timothy our brother

- that description was fascinating on all sorts of levels and the Corinthians would have known that…Timothy’s mother and grandmother were devout Jews, but his father was an unbelieving Grecian man according to Acts 16:1…

- Paul had also been the one who led him to Christ which is why in other places Timothy is called Paul’s son in the faith…

- but what’s important here is that he’s “our brother”…God is transforming people into His messengers…

B. The One who is building His church – v. 1b

- …To the church of God which is at Corinth with all the saints who are throughout Achaia:

- the word church – ekklasia

- ek – “out of”, kalew – “to call”

- that’s what the church is – a “called out assembly” and that definition will become even more important when we consider what comfort actually is and how it is received…

- but all the way back in Matthew 16 after the Jewish nation formally rejected Christ as their Messiah…Jesus promised that He would build His church…a group of men and women from every nation and economic condition that He was calling out of the world and into a personal relationship with Him through His finished work on the cross…

- and He would then mediate His plan and program in and through them…that’s why there had to be…

C. The One who offers both grace and peace – v. 2

- Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

- grace was the only way we could be forgiven of our sin and gain entrance to God’s family…and peace with Him and others is a delightful aspect of that free gift…

- I appreciated the point John Macarthur made about the description of the Lord we read in verse 2 – I think sometimes we get so used to hearing certain phrases that they don’t impact us the way they should…

- The title Lord Jesus Christ summarizes all of His redemptive work. Lord describes His sovereign deity; Jesus (the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew name Yeshua; “God saves”) describes His saving death and resurrection; Christ (“anointed one”) describes Him as the King who will defeat God’s enemies and rule over the redeemed earth and the eternal state (John MacArthur, 2 Corinthians, p. 19).

- this is the One we come to worship on the Lord’s Day…and His Person and work puts all our tribulations in their proper perspective…which can be very comforting if we’ll allow it to be…He’s also…

D. The One who is our blessed Father – v. 3

- Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,

- please consider all the places you and I might go to find comfort this fall…they all pale in comparison to this description, do they not?...and then Paul says our God…

E. The One who always comforts us – v. 4a

- who comforts us in all our affliction

- the word comfort is parakalew…

- if that sounds familiar to the word church…you’re right…

- the “second half” of both words is the same…to call…

- the difference is the “first half”, or the preposition…

- we saw that church is ek-klasia – again, ek means out of, so God is calling us out of the world as He builds His church…

- para – “alongside”, kalew – “to call”

- God comforts us by coming alongside us in our hurts, pains, fears, frustrations…and calling us to Himself for strength, and sustenance, and deeper relationship with Him…

- that means that whatever your spiritual condition today, God is calling you to something…

- if you don’t yet know Christ as Savior and Lord…please hear these words…Revelation 3:20 - ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.

- one of the clear lessons from the year 2020 is the importance of seeking comfort in the right place, and I would urge you in these tumultuous times, to answer God’s call to salvation and admit your sin and place your faith and trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior…and if you have any questions at all about exactly what that means, we would be happy to meet with you in whatever setting makes you most comfortable to study God’s Word on this matter…

- Christian friend…isn’t it amazing that God has time and interest in calling you?...

- this word is so precious that it’s actually one of the names of the Holy Spirit – He’s our paraclete – our comforter…

- this is why James told us to - James 4:8 - Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

- a new book that’s been published on this subject that you might want to study with your family this fall is…Made to Draw Near by Ed Welch…

- so why can we have hope in tribulation?...because of God’s marvelous character…

II. Have Hope in God’s Purpose – 4b – 7

- I realize you might try to mentally apply all of this to what you’re likely to face this fall and say things like…

- but I don’t enjoy the trip down to the Indy airport…and having to find parking…and the overpriced food and no place to stow my luggage…

- in other words, I don’t like the mask arguments, or the educational uncertainty, or the political in-fighting, or the social unrest…all of that is decidedly uncomfortable to me…

- well – are you focused on the process, or the product/potential result…

- because there’s a double beauty here…not only that you can be strengthened by God coming alongside you during times of tribulation and ministering to your soul…but also for the purpose of…

A. So we can comfort others – 4b

- 2 Corinthians 1:4 - who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction…

- do you have anyone else in your life who is under affliction right now?...

- the answer to that question may be a more resounding “yes” than at any other time in our lives…

- who do you know who isn’t facing some sort of affliction right now?...

- and I realize you might say – but I don’t have any spare comfort to give right now…

- it’s kind of like paper products at the beginning of the pandemic…I have to hoard whatever I have because now its every man for himself…

- what does the next phrase in the verse say?...

B. With a source that is supernatural – v. 5

- 2 Corinthians 1:4 - who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

- that’s why its so important to find ways everyday to be comforted in your afflictions by our sufficient God…because then you have surplus comfort to share…

- isn’t it a delightful thing to see someone learn the art of sharing?...

- we had the privilege of having all four of our grandsons together the week before last…

- including our two middle grandsons Jude and Jackson…

- it was interesting to sit back and watch them struggle with the issue of sharing…it doesn’t come naturally for any of us, does it…

- and I’m not saying they did it perfectly because after all, they are related to me…

- but during the times they did…it was a beautiful thing to behold…

- in fact our Jackson is quite a snacker – which is surprising for someone his size…but often when his parents or grandparents would give him a snack…he would just stand there looking at how much you had put in his bowl…and then look back and say, I need some for Bubba…that’s what he calls his older brother Liam…

- and then he takes his snack in and shares it…

- you and I ought to have that same heart when it comes to pointing others to the comfort available to them in Christ…

- in fact, we should invite additional journeys if that makes the possibility of comforting others more likely…that’s what…

C. Which grounds our hope for others – v. 7

- 2 Corinthians 1:7 - and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.

- there’s no question that we’re all going to be sharing sufferings this fall…that will be the universal condition of mankind, it appears…

- what remains to be seen is whether the people of God seek to live in a way that others can be sharers of our comfort…

- now, let’s think about what this looks like in real time…I would encourage all of us to finds ways to start our days, and process our days, by seeking to be comforted by our God…

- by His promises, by His blessings, by His plan, by His presence, by His Word…to live in light of passages like this:

- 2 Thessalonians 2:16–17 - Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.

- this is a clear antidote to fear and worry and anxiety…

- and that provides a level of calm and stability as we respond to whatever challenges we are called upon to face…

- that’s why, remember – Paul began 2 Corinthians as he does with many of his books by directing our attention to God’s grace and peace…

- so do we need to be concerned about COVID?...of course…but we don’t have to sinfully worry about it…and we don’t have to spend our days convincing everyone on the planet that our opinions are the only correct ones…

- people who have found their comfort in God have a kind of peace and self-control that is delightfully attractive…

- and invariably you will have people ask you about how you can stay so calm in the midst of a storm…and you can almost hear the air horn blowing…because you can drive the semi-truck of the gospel through an opening like that…

- and you might even find yourself thanking God for the occasion where you needed His special comfort…so you in turn had a unique opportunity to point someone else to that same source…

- should we care about politics?...a little bit…but people who are finding their comfort in God and His Word understand that this world is not our home…

- friend – if you’re trying to find comfort in the results of the next election…or the next supreme court nominee…you will be endlessly agitated, and endlessly angry…and worried and fearful and uncomforted and uncomfortable…

- that approach to living ignores a far superior source…

- the same is true in a different kind of way about social justice…I believe we should work as hard as we can to help our nation and our world achieve liberty and justice for all…but if you will only be comforted when the conditions in this world are perfect in this life…you very well could miss opportunities to direct men and women to comfort in the next life…

- that’s why some of the most powerful lives and voices in the social justice movement historically have been and women who found their ultimate comfort in their God and His promises and on that platform of peace and self-control made a profound difference in our culture…

- [as time allows, develop some of our ministry plans this fall, and how inviting friends and co-workers could be a marvelous opportunity to point others to the kind of comfort found only in our God]…

- now, what about those who would say – but PV, what we’re likely to experience this fall is the worst its ever been…how can we be sure God’s comfort will be sufficient?...

- did you notice the language Paul uses at the end of this section?...it’s the language of deliverance

III. Have Hope in God’s Deliverance – 8-11

Even when the burden is excessive – v. 8

For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life;

- we don’t know for sure exactly what Paul was speaking about here…

- but he uses similar language again later in the book…

- 2 Corinthians 4:7–11 - But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

- friends, that’s the power of the gospel…and it appears we are going to have plenty of opportunities for this to occur this fall…always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body…

- isn’t that exactly what Peggy Brubaker spoke with us about this am? [develop]

B. By choosing not to trust in ourselves – v. 9-10

- don’t you love what Paul calls us to next?...

- 2 Corinthians 1:9–10 - indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope.

- when Christmas rolls around [and it will roll around]…don’t you want to be able to say things like this about your response to afflictions…

- I didn’t trust in myself…

- I trusted in God who raises the dead…

- He has delivered me in the past, and He will deliver me in the days ahead…

- and Him I have set my hope…

C. Inviting others to be God’s instrument in our lives – v. 11

- the passage ends with a very practical and powerful reminder of the importance of our praying for one another this fall as we seek to walk these principles out regardless of what occurs…

- you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many.

- [conclusion – tell about the 60th anniversary video Bethany and Karis assembled – including a clip of Eddie Iccaza – and the wild Harley ride back to the airport…more importantly, cherished friendships in Ecuador and important ministry opportunities in a country that right after our trip was rocked by civil unrest and then a significant COVID outbreak…the only way I could have had the privilege and possibility of providing some measure of comfort in that situation was to deal with the hassles of the drive to the Indy airport, and finding parking, and overpriced food and luggage challenges…but those afflictions were more than worth the opportunity to receive God’s comfort, and point others to it]

Dr. Steve Viars

Roles

Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation

Bio

B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video