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#5 How many are righteous or good in God's eyes (none)

Paul says all are under sin. The question "are we better?" Paul says...."not at all". The Jews enjoyed certain privileges because they were God's chosen people...but these privileges did not exclude them from the judgment of God. They had advantages over the Gentiles (; ), but God does not give them preferential treatment.
In this passage, Paul begins to quote a number of OT scriptures to prove that sin is "universal".....and therefore, all are guilty before God...the Jews and Gentiles...(encompasses all people).
Scripture......not Paul, is the judge.
See ; ; ; ; , .
Turn back to Romans 3:9
In this passage there are 5 charges :
1) they are all under sin (v.9) - This means they are all under the penalty as well as the power of sin....and subject to the judgment of God. Paul has charged the whole world with being....innately or naturally sinful.
In verse 30, Paul reveals that ther is one God....Who has provided a solution to the problem of sin: through faith and trust in Jesus Christ.
Paul makes a contrast between being "under sin" and being "under grace" speaks about being "under grace".....and our sins forgiven and we ourselves justified.
14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. 15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
2) There is none righteous, no, not one (v.10) Paul quotes , to support his argument that sin is common to all....Jews and Greeks.
3) There is none that understandeth (v. 11) People don't understand spiritual truth ().....and most don't seek after God. People are simply satisfied with being "religious".
4) There is none that seeketh after God.
5) They are all gone out of the way, none do good (v. 12) People turn away from God; Apart from God....we are no good...and can do no good. It's the Holy Spirit in us that helps us to exhibit the fruits of the Spirit.....love, joy, peach, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness and faith () While some unbelievers can be kind and gracious....their acts of kindness have no value....because they're not done from a heart that seeks to please and glorify God. A "good person" does things for his/her own welfare.
“All” are “under sin” (v. ). “There is none righteous” (v. ). “There is none who does good” (v. ). “All have sinned” (v. ).
Man is immersed in the misery of sin, and he is guilty of contentment in sin. No one even seeks after God.
The fact is Scripture charges everyone with sin (vv. ). That legal determination brings dread silence as humankind stands before the dread bar of divine judgment (v. ). It also causes a great shift in our understanding of the function of divine Law. God’s Law is not intended to save, but to make us aware of our sin! (v. )
Then suddenly the bad news is transformed into good! God has revealed a righteousness that has nothing to do with the Law. Since all have sinned, all need to be justified by a grace gift given those who have faith in Jesus (vv. ). Why by Jesus? Because He is the propitiating sacrifice, the basis on which God can be righteous in forgiving our sins (vv. ). Doesn’t this make Law meaningless? Not at all. It establishes Law in the role God always intended it to have—as a mirror showing us our sin and pointing us toward faith (vv. ).
Richards, L. O. (1991). The Bible reader’s companion (electronic ed., p. 739). Wheaton: Victor Books.

#6 Because of this universal sin problem, how many stand guilty under God's law?

The whole world is guilty before God.....and everyone will be held accountable; The whole world was charged with being under sin. We read above that Paul included the Jews.....who received he oracles of God and were bound by them. The "Law" points up and to God's standards.....and shows us at the time how impossible it is for us to live by the Law. Our sins are before God.....and there is no defense.....that's why Paul says...."every mouth may be stopped" . All of us will stand before God in judgment....and the "sinner" or "unbeliever" won't be be able to make plea bargain, or bribe the Judge (God)....he won't even be able to make a defense for himself before God. His verdict will be "guilty".....because he will have been justly charged with his crime.
Paul has been saying since chapter 1 .....that the whole world is in need of God's righteousness.
Finally, the Law is not a way for a person to be declared righteous (justified) in His sight (cf. ). That was not its purpose (; ; ). Instead, the Law was given so that through it we become conscious (lit., “through the Law is full knowledge”) of sin (cf. ; ). The Mosaic Law is an instrument not of justification but of condemnation.
Witmer, J. A. (1985). Romans. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 450). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

#7 How many have sinned and who is our only hope?

All have sinned. says.....Therefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
The federal headship view considers Adam, the first man, as the representative of the human race that generated from him. As the representative of all humans, Adam’s act of sin was considered by God to be the act of all people and his penalty of death was judicially made the penalty of everybody.
Witmer, J. A. (1985). Romans. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 458). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
"for the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." ( Rom. 7:13)
The entire human race was plunged into sin with Adam....so all are sinners.
All fall short. "fall" is presnet tense....meaning a continuous action. So we can say...."keep on falling short". And in our own efforts....we will never measure up to the glory of God. God's glory is His splendor...and He wants us to share that splendor....and become like Him, that is, Christlike (cf. “glory” in ; ; ; ). Yet their sin keeps them from sharing it.
Witmer, J. A. (1985). Romans. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 451). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

#14 When we commit sin even against our wishes, what does it prove?

34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.
The act of committing sin reveals that the one doing the act is under the power and authority of sin.
We are freed from sin by the truth. We are not sinless, but blameless....and free from the power of sin.
(NLT)
. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”*) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
. The mention that believers are “under grace” (v. ) raised another aberrant idea that the apostle refuted. The question is, Shall we sin because we are … under grace instead of the Law? The Greek aorist (past) tense here may have the sense of .....committing an act of sin.... now and then, in contrast to living a life of sin..... as stated in verse . Paul’s response was the same as before (v. ): By no means! (mē genoito; cf. comments on ) Again he proceeded to explain why that idea cannot be accepted. He asked, Don’t you know (“perceive intuitively” a self-evident truth; cf. ) that in effect there is no middle ground between being a slave to sin and a slave to obedience to God. As the Lord Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters.… You cannot serve both God and money” (; ). Paul also pointed out that being a slave to sin leads to death (cf. , ). This is not physical death only or even spiritual death only, but death in general as the natural consequence and inevitable concomitant of sin (cf. ). On the other hand being a slave to obedience (to God and His gospel obviously) leads to righteousness (again righteousness in the general sense as equivalent to eternal life or glorification). Death is the normal consequence of sin (which is disobeying God); righteousness is the normal consequence of obeying God and living for Him.
. This discussion reminded the Apostle Paul of what the grace of God had already accomplished in his readers’ lives and he burst forth in praise. Before they responded to the gospel they had been slaves to sin, but they wholeheartedly (lit., “out from hearts,” thus inwardly and genuinely, not merely externally) obeyed (cf. “obedience” in ) the form of teaching to which they were entrusted. Hearing the teaching of God’s Word, they committed themselves to those truths. That commitment was evidenced by their response to the gospel and their being baptized. The result was that they have been set free from sin and have become slaves (past tense in Gr.) to righteousness (cf. ). This is positional and must be manifested in daily experience, but it demonstrates again that there is no middle ground. Christians are not to give in to sin because they are dead to it and no longer slaves of it. It is totally contrary to God’s plan for slaves of righteousness to become enslaved to sin!
. To talk of being “enslaved” to righteousness and to God is not correct in one sense, Paul wrote, because God does not hold His children in bondage. But the word “slavery” appropriately describes an unregenerate person’s relationship to sin and to Satan. So Paul used “slavery” for contrasting the relationship of the believer as well. Before developing this idea further, the apostle in effect apologized for its use—I put this in human terms (lit., “I am speaking in human fashion”)—because you are weak in your natural selves (lit., “your flesh”). Apparently Paul felt that his readers’ spiritual perception was feeble so he used this terminology from human experience. Then he basically repeated the ideas of verses . Unsaved Romans had offered their bodies to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness (lit., “lawlessness”; cf. ; ). They had voluntarily become enslaved! But Paul exhorted believers now to offer themselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness (perfect holiness, as the end of the process [cf. v. ]) in contrast with their former impurity.
. Paul once again stated that slavery to sin and to righteousness are V 2, p 465 mutually exclusive (cf. vv. , ). But he went on to indicate the superiority of being enslaved to righteousness and God. The benefit (this Gr. word is usually trans. “fruit”) of enslavement to sin was that it produced things that a believer is now ashamed of. But even worse, “the end of those things is death” (lit. trans.).
Responding to the gospel by faith and accepting Jesus Christ completely reverses things for an individual. He is now … set free from sin (cf. v. ) and has been enslaved to God with the result that he has the benefit of holiness (cf. v. ), the subject of chapters . The sinful life gives no benefit (), but salvation gives the benefit of a holy, clean life (v. ). Whereas the “end” (telos) or result of sin is death (v. ), the “end” of salvation is eternal life. Paul then summarized these contrasts. The wages (the Gr. word opsōnia originally meant a soldier’s pay) of sin is death (eternal death here, in contrast with “eternal life” in v. ). This death is eternal separation from God in hell, in which unbelievers suffer conscious torment forever (). This is the wages they have earned and deserve because of their sin (cf. ; ). By contrast, the gift (charisma, “grace-gift”) of God is eternal life (cf. , ). Eternal life is a gift that cannot be earned (cf. ; ).
Three times in this chapter Paul wrote that sin results in death (, , ). But believers have been set free from sin (vv. , ) and are no longer slaves to it (vv. , ) but are “slaves to righteousness” (vv. , ; cf. v. ). Because they are alive to God (v. ) and have eternal life (v. ) they should present themselves to Him (vv. , ) and live accordingly, not letting sin master them (vv. , , ).
Witmer, J. A. (1985). Romans. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, pp. 464–465). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

#15 Freedom from sin's slavery is found only in whom?

36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
People can become truly free by becoming sons of God by faith in Christ, the Son ().
To be “free” is not to live selfishly, doing whatever one wants whenever one wants, but to live a disciplined and godly life which releases us from our bondage to sin so that the choices we make lead to what helps us rather than to what hurts
Richards, L., & Richards, L. O. (1987). The teacher’s commentary (p. 729). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

16. Why did Jesus come into this world?

This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world (refers to all humanity) to save (deliver or rescue) sinners; of whom I am chief.
Jesus came not merely to set an example or to show that He cared. The prime purpose of Christ’s coming was not to teach nor to heal nor to be an example, but to save sinners. He came to save sinners from their spiritual death or destitution—and Paul said he was the worst of all.
Paul himself....saw the dreadful and aweful condition and the disgrace of sin....he also understood the sinfulness of human beings......and he saw himself as the worst of all sinners (of whom I am chief )....he placed himself first.
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. World refers to all humanity. Save means to deliver or rescue. And that's what Christ came to do for us.....He came to die for the sins of the whole world.
Someone said, “The beginning of greatness is to be little; it increases as we become less and is perfect when we become nothing.”

#17 What does the Bible have to say to those who claim “we have no sin”?

8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
Sometimes, as Believers.....when we're experiencing true fellowship with God....we may be tempted to think that we are....(for the moment at least).....free from sin....but John warns against this deception.
We must have the "truth" "in" us....to control us, motivate us, influence us....and when it is....self-deception will not take place.
The correct way to deal with sin is not to deny it.....but to acknowledge it and allow God to cleanse it. Our sin nature is not gone....and to say that it is.....we deceive ourselves. To have no sin...is to have no need of a Savior.....which would make the coming of Jesus unnecessary.
1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins.....
Confess - means to acknowledge
Every Christian, is responsible to acknowledge whatever the "Light" makes him aware of....and when he does....a complete and perfect cleansing is given to him. There is no need to agonize over sins that we are unaware of.
Our forgiveness....which is promised here, is absolutely assured (because God is "faithful")
Our forgiveness....is also "just" (He is "just")
God is “just” and “righteous” when He forgives our (the believer’s) sins... because of the “atoning sacrifice” which the Lord Jesus has made (see ).
from ...... our fellowship with God is inseparably connected with the blood which Jesus shed for us.
God’s forgiveness is given as soon as we admit that we've sinned and need forgiveness. Our forgiveness is not based on anything that we have done to earn it....but solely because of God's grace.
Forgiveness is a free gift. When we are forgiven.....we are purified from unrighteousness.
God accepts us as righteous because He imputes (credits; attributes) to us the righteousness of Christ.
Paul argues that Abraham did nothing which earned him the status of being righteous in the sight of God. Rather, Abraham believed the promise of God, and for that reason was granted the status of being righteous before God.
Likewise, all who trust in Jesus Christ have righteousness imputed to them--that is, reckoned as if it was theirs.
Jesus is our sin-bearer. And His righteousness.....is reckoned (calculated) to our account.
It is His blood that cleanses us from ALL sin....making it possible for imperfect Believers to have fellowship with a holy God.
Our fellowship with God is dependent upon us walking in God's light...where sin is revealed.

#18 Of what do we accuse God when we say that we have not sinned?

If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
This statement should be read in direct connection with verse . When a Christian is confronted by God’s Word about his sins, he should admit them rather than deny them. To deny one’s personal sin in the face of God’s testimony to the contrary, is to “make” God “out to be a liar.” By contradicting His Word, a person rejects it and refuses to give it the proper “place” in his life.
This is different from saying that we have no sin in verse . In verse it is a matter of recognizing what can be classed as sin in our lives; in verse it is a matter of denying that we have ever really (perfect tense in Greek) sinned at all. We make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
We may admit to having a sin nature while still denying any personal sin and therefore any need for confession. The Greek verb translated we have not sinned indicates a denial in the past that continues to the present. Unlike v. , which speaks of the guilt of sin or a sinful nature, this verse is about the denial of any particular sins. To make this denial is to call God a liar because God’s word emphasizes the penetrating nature of sin (see ). Denying that sin is in us indicates that God’s word is not in us. In other words, a person who denies committing sinful acts does not have the Word of God changing his or her life.

#19 What are two things God does for us if we confess our sins to Him?

9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Though John uses we primarily to refer to himself and the other apostles as eyewitnesses of Christ (v. ), here the term includes all believers who confess (acknowledge) sin. God says that we are sinners in need of forgiveness. To confess is to agree with Him, to admit that we are sinners in need of His mercy. If a believer confesses his or her specific sins to God, He will cleanse all unrighteousness from that person. Forgiveness and cleansing are guaranteed because God is faithful to His promises. Those promises are legitimate because God is just. God can maintain His perfect character and yet forgive us because of the perfect and righteous sacrifice of Jesus, His own Son ().
Each Christian, however, is responsible to acknowledge (the meaning of “confess,” homologōmen; cf. ; ) whatever the light makes him aware of, and when he does so, a complete and perfect cleansing is granted him. There is thus no need to agonize over sins of which one is unaware.
Moreover, it is comforting to learn that the forgiveness which is promised here is both absolutely assured (because God “is faithful”) and also is in no way contrary to His holiness (He is “just”). The word used here for “just” (dikaios) is the same one which is applied as a title to Christ in where it is translated “the Righteous One.” Dikaios is also used of God (either the Father or the Son) in and . Obviously God is “just” or “righteous” when He forgives the believer’s sin because of the “atoning sacrifice” which the Lord Jesus has made (see ). As is already evident from , a Christian’s fellowship with God is inseparably connected with the effectiveness of the blood which Jesus shed for him.
In modern times some have occasionally denied that a Christian needs to confess his sins and ask forgiveness. It is claimed that a believer already has forgiveness in Christ (). But this point of view confuses the perfect position which a Christian has in God’s Son (by which he is even “seated … with Him in the heavenly realms” []) with his needs as a failing individual on earth. What is considered in may be described as “familial” forgiveness. It is perfectly understandable how a son may need to ask his father to forgive him for his faults while at the same time his position within the family is not in jeopardy. A Christian who never asks his heavenly Father for forgiveness for his sins can hardly have much sensitivity to the ways in which he grieves his Father. Furthermore, the Lord Jesus Himself taught His followers to seek forgiveness of their sins in a prayer that was obviously intended for daily use (cf. the expression “give us today our daily bread” preceding “forgive us our debts,” ). The teaching that a Christian should not ask God for daily forgiveness is an aberration. Moreover, confession of sin is never connected by John with the acquisition of eternal life, which is always conditioned on faith. is not spoken to the unsaved, and the effort to turn it into a soteriological affirmation is misguided.
It may also be said that so long as the idea of walking in the light or darkness is correctly understood on an experiential level, these concepts offer no difficulty. “Darkness” has an ethical meaning (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, s.v. “skotos,” ). When a believer loses personal touch with the God of light, he begins to live in darkness. But confession of sin is the way back into the light.
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Bible Study Dec 8, 2016

April 13, 2017

Christian Concern and Compassion

17. CHRISTIAN CONCERN AND COMPASSION
I. THE CONFUSED CROWD
“But when he saw the multitudes.…” There were all types of people in the crowd that followed Christ.
A. Sick people. All types of people were healed by Christ (). Christ not only came to save man but to heal man spiritually, physically, and mentally.
B. Sinful people—. All men are sinners. This is why our Lord came (). He didn’t come to condemn but to convert. Not to rebuke but to redeem.
C. Sorrowful people—. Jesus forgives the woman guilty of adultery. God forgives all sin (). Too often man forgives but does not forget.
D. Suffering people—. A leper, who was an outcast, is healed by Christ. He took time for all people.
E. Sad people—. Zacchaeus was hated by many because of his way of living; yet Christ takes time for him.
p 31 II. THE COMPASSIONATE CHRIST
“… He was moved with compassion on them.…”
A. Divine compassion—. God was willing to give His only Son for the sins of mankind.
B. Dedicated compassion—. Christ had power to give or to withold His life. His dedication caused Him to go all the way to the cross. He gave His all.
C. Desirous compassion—. It is not the Lord’s will that any perish but that all be saved. When Christ died, He died for all. He died for His enemies ().
D. Determined compassion—. Christ prayed, “… Not as I will, but as thou wilt.” Though it meant suffering, He was willing to pay the full price for our salvation.
III. THE CONCERNED CHRIST
“… Because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.”
A. Helpless—“fainted.” There was no spiritual help. Many cry out as David did in . The Ethiopian asked Philip, “How can I [understand] except some man guide me?…” ().
B. Homeless—“scattered.” There was no spiritual hope. The Philippian jailer did not know the plan of salvation ().
C. Hopeless—“no shepherd.” There was no shepherd to help. Paul asks, “… How shall they hear without a preacher?” (). God has placed pastors in the church to help people.
Pentz, C. M. (1975). Christian Life Outlines (pp. 30–31). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
If you know Jesus Christ as your Savior, your sins have already been judged on the cross (; ). But are you ready for the judgment seat of Christ where your works will be judged (; )? Ask yourself the following questions.
Do I judge myself or others ()? How easy it is to cover up my own failures by criticizing others ()!
Am I grateful for God’s goodness ()? It is not the badness of man but the goodness of God that brings us to repentance (). Do I take God’s many blessings for granted?
Is my faith proved by works ()? Paul was not teaching salvation by works but works that prove salvation. Do I obey God’s truth and persist in holy living? Do I have a hard heart or a tender heart?
Am I hiding behind religion (, )? The Jews boasted of their law, but it could not save them. External rituals do not produce internal changes. God searches the heart. What does He see in my heart?
Do I practice what I profess ()? Do I tell others what is right but then do what is wrong? Do I expect more of others than I do of myself?
God judges honestly (v. ) and without partiality (v. ), and no secret is hidden from Him (v. ). Are you prepared?
How rarely we weigh our neighbor in the same balance in which we weigh ourselves.
Thomas à Kempis
Wiersbe, W. W. (1991). With the Word Bible Commentary (Ro 2:1). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

LESSON TEMPLATE

SACRED HEART WOMEN'S BIBLE STUDY
TOPIC:
SCRIPTURE:
DATE:_______________________________________
NIV
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
Grow in the grace and knowledge of Him

Praise To The God Of All Comfort (2 Cor 1:1-10)

SACRED HEART WOMEN'S BIBLE STUDY
TOPIC: The God of All Comfort
SCRIPTURE:
DATE:_______________________________________
26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
NIV
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
INTRODUCTION
One key word in 2 Corinthians is comfort (encouragement), used in one form or another several times. Yet there are many references to suffering, too. In this very personal letter Paul opens his heart and shares his deepest joys and sorrows. After all, Christians are human and must be honest in expressing their feelings.
Wiersbe, W. W. (1991). With the Word Bible Commentary. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
Christians need comfort. While trying to help the church, Paul experienced suffering so intense that he was almost ready to give up (vv. ). God does not shelter His people from trials, not even gifted apostles who are doing His will. “Be kind,” said John Watson, “for everyone you meet is fighting a battle.”
Christians receive comfort. Your God is the “God of all comfort” (v. ), and He will give you the grace you need when you need it. Sufferings are not accidents; they are divine appointments, and your Father is in complete control. You will find comfort in praying, in claiming the promises of the Word (vv. ), and in having deeper fellowship with the Lord.
Christians share comfort. God’s comfort is not given; it is loaned, and you are expected to pass it on to others. The pain you experience now will help you encourage others in their trials. When you suffer, avoid self-pity, for self-pity will make you a reservoir instead of a channel. If you fail to share God’s comfort with others, your experience in the furnace will be wasted; and it is a tragic thing to waste your sufferings.
Blessed Be the Lord
What do , , and have in common? All three are doxologies, praising the Lord for what He does for His people. They deal with past, present, and future blessings in the Christian life. In your sufferings, take time to praise the Lord. It is good medicine for a hurting heart.
God does not comfort us to make us comfortable, but to make us comforters.
John Henry Jowett
Wiersbe, W. W. (1991). With the Word Bible Commentary (2 Co 1:1). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
CHAPTER ONE
DOWN—BUT NOT OUT!
“You seem to imagine that I have no ups and downs, but just a level and lofty stretch of spiritual attainment with unbroken joy and equanimity. By no means! I am often perfectly wretched and everything appears most murky.”
So wrote the man who was called in his day “The Greatest Preacher in the English-speaking World”—Dr. John Henry Jowett. He pastored leading churches, preached to huge congregations, and wrote books that were bestsellers.
“I am the subject of depressions of spirit so fearful that I hope none of you ever get to such extremes of wretchedness as I go to.”
Those words were spoken in a sermon by Charles Haddon Spurgeon whose marvelous ministry in London made him perhaps the greatest preacher England ever produced.
Discouragement is no respecter of persons. In fact, discouragement seems to attack the successful far more than the unsuccessful; for the higher we climb, the farther down we can fall. We are not surprised then when we read that the great Apostle Paul was “pressed out of measure” and “despaired even of life” (). Great as he was in character and ministry, Paul was human just like the rest of us.
Paul could have escaped these burdens except that he had a call from God () and a concern to help people. He had founded the church at Corinth and had ministered there for a year and a half (). When serious problems arose in the church after his departure, he sent Timothy to deal with them () and then wrote the letter that we call 1 Corinthians.
Unfortunately, matters grew worse and Paul had to make a “painful visit” to Corinth to confront the troublemakers (). Still, no solution. He then wrote “a severe letter” which was delivered by his associate, Titus (; ). After a great deal of distress, Paul finally met Titus and got the good report that the problem had been solved. It was then that he wrote the letter we call 2 Corinthians.
He wrote the letter for several reasons. First, he wanted to encourage the church to forgive and restore the member who had caused all the trouble (). He also wanted to explain his change in plans () and enforce his authority as an apostle (; ). Finally, he wanted to encourage the church to share in the special “relief offering” he was taking up for the needy saints in Judea ().
One of the key words in this letter is comfort or encouragement. The Greek word means “called to one’s side to help.” The verb is used eighteen times in this letter, and the noun eleven times. In spite of all the trials he experienced, Paul was able (by the grace of God) to write a letter saturated with encouragement.
What was Paul’s secret of victory when he was experiencing pressures and trials? His secret was God. When you find yourself discouraged and ready to quit, get your attention off of yourself and focus it on God. Out of his own difficult experience, Paul tells us how we can find encouragement in God. He gives us three simple reminders.
Remember What God Is to You ()
Paul began his letter with a doxology. He certainly could not sing about his circumstances, but he could sing about the God who is in control of all circumstances. Paul had learned that praise is an important factor in achieving victory over discouragement and depression. “Praise changes things” just as much as “Prayer changes things.”
Praise Him because He is God! You find this phrase “blessed be God” in two other places in the New Testament, in and . In Paul praised God for what He did in the past, when He “chose us in [Christ]” () and blessed us “with all spiritual blessings” (nasb). In Peter praised God for future blessings and “a living hope” (nasb). But in 2 Corinthians Paul praised God for present blessings, for what God was accomplishing then and there.
During the horrors of the Thirty Years’ War, Pastor Martin Rinkart faithfully served the people in Eilenburg, Saxony. He conducted as many as 40 funerals a day, a total of over 4,000 during his ministry. Yet out of this V 1, p 629 devastating experience, he wrote a “table grace” for his children which today we use as a hymn of thanksgiving:Now thank we all our God, With heart and hands and voices, Who wondrous things hath done, In whom His world rejoices!
Praise Him because He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! It is because of Jesus Christ that we can call God “Father” and even approach Him as His children. God sees us in His Son and loves us as He loves His Son (). We are “beloved of God” () because we are “accepted in the beloved” ().
Whatever the Father did for Jesus when He was ministering on earth, He is able to do for us today. We are dear to the Father because His Son is dear to Him and we are citizens of “the kingdom of His dear Son [the Son of His love]” (). We are precious to the Father, and He will see to it that the pressures of life will not destroy us.
Praise Him because He is the Father of mercies! To the Jewish people, the phrase father of means “originator of.” Satan is the father of lies () because lies originated with him. According to , Jubal was the father of musical instruments because he originated the pipe and the harp. God is the Father of mercies because all mercy originates with Him and can be secured only from Him.
God in His grace gives us what we do not deserve, and in His mercy He does not give us what we do deserve. “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed” (). God’s mercy is manifold (), tender (), and great (). The Bible frequently speaks of the “multitude of God’s mercies” so inexhaustible is the supply (; ; , ; , ; ).
Praise Him because He is the God of all comfort! The words comfort or consolation (same root word in the Greek) are repeated ten times in . We must not think of comfort in terms of “sympathy,” because sympathy can weaken us instead of strengthen us. God does not pat us on the head and give us a piece of candy or a toy to distract our attention from our troubles. No, He puts strength into our hearts so we can face our trials and triumph over them. Our English word comfort comes from two Latin words meaning “with strength.” The Greek word means “to come alongside and help.” It is the same word used for the Holy Spirit (“the Comforter”) in .
God can encourage us by His Word and through His Spirit, but sometimes He uses other believers to give us the encouragement we need (; ). How wonderful it would be if all of us had the nickname “Barnabas—son of encouragement”! ()
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When you find yourself discouraged because of difficult circumstances, it is easy to look at yourself and your feelings, or to focus on the problems around you. But the first step we must take is to look by faith to the Lord and realize all that God is to us. “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth” ().
Remember What God Does for You (, )
He permits the trials to come. There are ten basic words for suffering in the Greek language, and Paul used five of them in this letter. The most frequently used word is thlipsis, which means “narrow, confined, under pressure,” and in this letter is translated affliction (; ), tribulation (), and trouble (, ). Paul felt hemmed in by difficult circumstances, and the only way he could look was up.
In , Paul used the word pathema, “suffering,” which was also used for the sufferings of our Saviour (; ). There are some sufferings that we endure simply because we are human and subject to pain; but there are other sufferings that come because we are God’s people and want to serve Him.
We must never think that trouble is an accident. For the believer, everything is a divine appointment. There are only three possible outlooks a person can take when it comes to the trials of life.
**If our trials are the products of “fate” or “chance,” then our only recourse is to give up. Nobody can control fate or chance.
**If we have to control everything ourselves, then the situation is equally as hopeless.
**But if God is in control, and we trust Him, then we can overcome circumstances with His help.
God encourages us in all our tribulations by teaching us from His Word that it is He who permits trials to come.
He is in control of trials (v. ). “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life” (niv). Paul was weighed down like a beast of burden with a load too heavy to bear. But God knew just how much Paul could take and He kept the situation in control.
We do not know what the specific “trouble” was, but it was great enough to make Paul think he was going to die. Whether it was peril from his many enemies (see ; ), serious illness, or special satanic attack, we do not know; but we do know that God controlled the circumstances and protected His servant. When God puts His children into the furnace, He keeps His hand on the thermostat and His eye on the thermometer (; ). Paul may have despaired of life, but God did not despair of Paul.
God enables us to bear our trials (v. ). The first thing He must do is show us how weak we are in ourselves. Paul was a gifted and experienced servant of God, who had been through many different kinds of trials (see ; ). Surely all of this experience would be sufficient for him to face these new difficulties and overcome them.
But God wants us to trust Him—not our gifts or abilities, our experience, or our “spiritual reserves.” Just about the time we feel self-confident and able to meet the enemy, we fail miserably. “For when I am weak, then am I strong” ()
(The Bible Exposition Commentary)
When you and I die to self, then God’s resurrection power can go to work. It was when Abraham and Sarah were as good as dead physically that God’s resurrection power enabled them to have the promised son (). However, “dying to self” does not mean idle complacency, doing nothing and expecting God to do everything. You can be sure that Paul prayed, searched the Scriptures, consulted with his associates, and trusted God to work. The God who raises the dead is sufficient for any difficulty of life! He is able, but we must be available.
Paul did not deny the way he felt, nor does God want us to deny our emotions. “We were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears” (). The phrase “sentence of death” in could refer to an official verdict, perhaps an order for Paul’s arrest and execution. Keep in mind that the unbelieving Jews hounded Paul’s trail and wanted to eliminate him (). “Perils by my own countrymen” must not be overlooked in the list of dangers ().
God delivers us from our trials (v. ). Paul saw God’s hand of deliverance whether he looked back, around, or ahead. The word Paul used means “to help out of distress, to save and protect.” God does not always deliver us immediately, nor in the same way. James was beheaded, yet Peter was delivered from prison (). Both were delivered, but in different ways. Sometimes God delivers us from our trials, and at other times He delivers us in our trials.
God’s deliverance was in response to Paul’s faith, as well as to the faith of praying people in Corinth (). “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles” ().
God is glorified through our trials (v. ). When Paul reported what God had done for him, a great chorus of praise and thanksgiving went up from the saints to the throne of God. The highest service you and I can render on earth is to bring glory to God, and sometimes that service involves suffering. “The gift bestowed” refers to Paul’s deliverance from death, a wonderful gift indeed!
Paul was never ashamed to ask Christians to pray for him. In at least seven of his letters, he mentioned his great need for prayer support (; ; ; ; ; ; ). Paul and the believers in Corinth were helping each other (, ).
A missionary friend told me about the miraculous deliverance of his daughter from what was diagnosed as a fatal disease. At the very time the girl was so ill, several friends in the United States were praying for the family; and God answered prayer and healed the girl. The greatest help we can give to God’s servants is “helping together by prayer.”
The word sunupourgeo translated “helping together” is used only here in the Greek New Testament and is composed of three words: with, under, work. It is a picture of laborers under the burden, working together to get the job accomplished. It is encouraging to know that the Holy Spirit also assists us in our praying and helps to carry the load ().
God works out His purposes in the trials of life, if we yield to Him, trust Him, and obey what He tells us to do. Difficulties can increase our faith and strengthen our prayer lives. Difficulties can draw us closer to other Christians as they share the burdens with us. Difficulties can be used to glorify God. So, when you find yourself in the trials of life, V 1, p 631 remember what God is to you and what God does for you.
Remember What God Does through You ()
In times of suffering, most of us are prone to think only of ourselves and to forget others. We become cisterns instead of channels. Yet one reason for trials is so that you and I might learn to be channels of blessing to comfort and encourage others. Because God has encouraged us, we can encourage them.
One of my favorite preachers is Dr. George W. Truett, who pastored the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas for nearly 50 years. In one of his sermons, he told about an unbelieving couple whose baby died suddenly. Dr. Truett conducted the funeral and later had the joy of seeing them both trust Jesus Christ.
Many months later, a young mother lost her baby; and again, Dr. Truett was called to bring her comfort. But nothing he shared with her seemed to help her. But at the funeral service, the newly converted mother stepped to the girl’s side and said, “I passed through this, and I know what you are passing through. God called me, and through the darkness I came to Him. He has comforted me, and He will comfort you!”
Dr. Truett said, “The first mother did more for the second mother than I could have done, maybe in days and months; for the first young mother had traveled the road of suffering herself.”
However, Paul made it clear that we do not need to experience exactly the same trials in order to be able to share God’s encouragement. If we have experienced God’s comfort, then we can “comfort them which are in any trouble” (). Of course, if we have experienced similar tribulations, they can help us identify better with others and know better how they feel; but our experiences cannot alter the comfort of God. That remains sufficient and efficient no matter what our own experiences may have been.
Later in , Paul will give us an example of this principle. He was given a thorn in the flesh—some kind of physical suffering that constantly buffeted him. We do not know what this “thorn in the flesh” was, nor do we need to know. What we do know is that Paul experienced the grace of God and then shared that encouragement with us. No matter what your trial may be, “My grace is sufficient for thee” () is a promise you can claim. We would not have that promise if Paul had not suffered.
The subject of human suffering is not easy to understand, for there are mysteries to the working of God that we will never grasp until we get to heaven. Sometimes we suffer because of our own sin and rebellion, as did Jonah. Sometimes we suffer to keep us from sinning, as was the case with Paul (). Suffering can perfect our character () and help us to share the character of God ().
But suffering can also help us to minister to others. In every church, there are mature saints of God who have suffered and experienced God’s grace, and they are the great “encouragers” in the congregation. Paul experienced trouble, not as punishment for something he had done, but as preparation for something he was yet going to do—minister to others in need. Just think of the trials that King David had to endure in order to give us the great encouragement that we find in the Psalms.
makes it clear that there was always the possibility that the situation might be reversed: the Corinthian believers might go through trials and receive God’s grace so that they might encourage others. God sometimes calls a church family to experience special trials in order that He might bestow on them special abundant grace.
God’s gracious encouragement helps us if we learn to endure. “Patient endurance” is an evidence of faith. If we become bitter or critical of God, if we rebel instead of submit, then our trials will work against us instead of for us. The ability to endure difficulties patiently, without giving up, is a mark of spiritual maturity ().
God has to work in us before He can work through us. It is much easier for us to grow in knowledge than to grow in grace (). Learning God’s truth and getting it into our heads is one thing, but living God’s truth and getting it into our character is quite something else. God put young Joseph through thirteen years of tribulation before He made him second ruler of Egypt, and what a great man Joseph turned out to be! God always prepares us for what He is preparing for us, and a part of that preparation is suffering.
In this light, is very important: even our Lord Jesus Christ had to suffer! When we suffer in the will of God, we are sharing the sufferings of the Saviour. This V 1, p 632 does not refer to His “vicarious sufferings” on the cross, for only He could die as a sinless substitute for us (). Paul was referring here to “the fellowship of His sufferings” (), the trials that we endure because, like Christ, we are faithfully doing the Father’s will. This is suffering “for righteousness’ sake” ().
But as the sufferings increase, so does the supply of God’s grace. The word abound suggests the picture of a river overflowing. “But He giveth more grace” (). This is an important principle to grasp: God has ample grace for our every need, but He will not bestow it in advance. We come by faith to the throne of grace “that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (). The Greek word means “help when you need it, timely help.”
I read about a devoted believer who was arrested for his faith and condemned to be burned at the stake. The night before the execution, he wondered if he would have enough grace to become a human torch; so he tested his courage by putting his finger into the flame of the candle. Of course, it burned him and he pulled his hand back in pain. He was certain that he would never be able to face martyrdom without failing. But the next day, God gave him the grace he needed, and he had a joyful and triumphant witness before his enemies.
Now we can better understand ; for, if we could store up God’s grace for emergency use, we would be prone to trust ourselves and not “the God of all grace” (). All the resources God gives us may be kept for future use—money, food, knowledge, etc.—but the grace of God cannot be stored away.
Rather, as we experience the grace of God in our daily lives, it is invested into our lives as godly character (see ). This investment pays dividends when new troubles come our way, for godly character enables us to endure tribulation to the glory of God.
There is a “companionship” to suffering: it can draw us closer to Christ and to His people. But if we start to wallow in self-pity, suffering will create isolation instead of involvement. We will build walls and not bridges.
The important thing is to fix your attention on God and not on yourself. Remember what God is to you—“the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort” (). Remember what God does for you—that He is able to handle your trials and make them work out for your good and His glory. Finally, remember what God does through you—and let Him use you to be an encouragement to others.
Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, pp. 628–632). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
A God comforting
▼ A1 God will comfort
As one whom his mother comforts, so will I comfort you (); the Lord will comfort Zion (; ); I will restore comfort to him (); I will comfort them and give them joy for sorrow (); God will wipe away every tear (; ; ); you will comfort me again (); may your lovingkindness comfort me (); may he comfort you (); are the consolations of God too small for you? (); in anxiety your consolations cheer me (); comfort my people, says your God (); the Father of mercies and God of all comfort (); I am the one who comforts you (); blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted (); the Father will give you a Comforter to be with you for ever (); the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name (); God has sent me to comfort those who mourn (); he comforts us so we may be able to comfort others with the comfort with which he comforts us (); as the sufferings of Christ abound for us, so our comfort abounds through Christ (); as you share in our suffering so you share in our comfort (); if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation (); if we are comforted, it is for your comfort (); if there is any comfort in love (); eternal comfort ().
▼ A2 God has comforted
Your anger turned away and you comforted me (); the Lord has comforted his people (; ); you will be comforted for the evil I brought on Jerusalem (); your rod and your staff comfort me (); God who comforts the downcast comforted us (); you have helped and comforted me (); the Lord answered the angel with gracious and comforting words (); I remember your ordinances and comfort myself (); Simeon was looking for the consolation of Israel (); the poor man was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom (); the rich man saw Abraham and Lazarus in his bosom (); Lazarus received bad things and now he is comforted (); the church was walking in the comfort of the Holy Spirit (); my comfort is that you have revived me ().
● B Human comfort
Day, A. C. (2009). Collins Thesaurus of the Bible. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

How are You Walking? What Does Your Walk Look Like?

that saith. See on ver. ; ch. . he. ver. ; ch. . . to walk. ch. . . . . . . .
Blayney, B., Scott, T., & Torrey, R. A. with Canne, J., Browne. (n.d.). The Treasury of Scripture knowledge (Vol. 2, p. 173). London: Samuel Bagster and Sons.
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Sorrow & Affliction

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