Sunday, 24 April 2011

The Importance of Spiritual Comfort

As indicated in a previous blog, I am reading John Colquhoun's book on Spiritual Comfort and have completed his second chapter which considered the importance of spiritual comfort.

Colquhoun gives twelve reasons to confirm the importance of believers enjoying spiritual comfort. First, there is the desire of God. The Father, out of his great love, sent his Son into the world to purchase at great cost comfort for them, and then highly exalted him with the purpose of dispensing it to them. The Father and the Son also send the Spirit to apply comfort to the souls of believers. Each of the divine persons has a name that includes comfort: the Father is the God of all comfort (Rom. 15:5), the Son is the consolation of Israel (Luke 2:25) and the Spirit is the Comforter (John 16:7). The Lord commands his servants to comfort his people (Isa. 35:3-4).

Second, since fullness of comfort and joy is an essential aspect of eternal life in heaven, so it is present in less degree in the same eternal life begun on earth. Such ‘holy consolation is a commodity of heaven, that distant country, not to be imported but by faith and prayer.’ A third reason that shows the importance of spiritual comfort is that it is part of the pure delight believers share with angels because it is connected to communion with God, especially of the enjoyment known in the presence of God and the Lamb.

Fourth, every part of the Bible is intended to promote spiritual comfort (Rom. 15:4), whether ‘types and prophecies, histories and examples, laws and doctrines’. Fifth, God in his providence, even in those aspects that seem adversarial, is working all things together to produce spiritual comfort. An example is the promise to bring his people into a wilderness where he may speak comfortably to them (Hos. 2:14). If any comforts are taken from them, it is because the Saviour’s design is to give them better ones.

Sixth, spiritual comforts, to a very high degree, heighten and sweeten all temporal comforts that a believer has: ‘when a man is enabled cordially to trust that the Lord Jesus loves and saves him, and that He will perfect that which concerns him, his joy and peace in believing cannot fail to impart a heavenly sweetness to all his earthly joys.’ Seventh, spiritual comfort also alleviates all their calamities. Believers in earlier times took joyfully the spoiling of their goods because they had received from Jesus spiritual comfort. He gives them peace even when the world gives them trouble (John 16:33), and they can rejoice even in times of tribulation (Rom. 5:3).

Eighth, spiritual comfort is the only way of dealing effectively with troubled spirits. Ninth, such comfort overbalances the strong difficulties that come on the path of following Jesus (such as repentance for personal sin, mortification of indwelling sin, self-denial, fighting spiritual enemies), so making the path sweet and easy. Tenth, in proportion to how much of it is given, spiritual comfort removes the terror of death and judgement by the promises of heaven and resurrection, and enables the believer to fall asleep ‘in the arms of their dear Redeemer’.

Eleventh, the importance of spiritual comfort will be seen when it is contrasted with worldly joy. The latter never lives up to the claims made about it whereas the fullness of the former cannot be imagined. Further, worldly joy demeans the human soul but heavenly joy honours it. Those who have tried both know which is best.

The twelfth, and most important, reason for the importance of spiritual comfort is that it promotes holiness in every area of life. Comfort stimulates obedience, love for Jesus, hatred of sin, and desire for perfection. ‘It is the “oil of gladness” that makes the wheels of their voluntary obedience move forward with ease and speed.’ Further, spiritual comfort ‘so exhilarates and so constrains him as to make all his affection run out to the Lord Jesus, and all his strength run out for Him.’

Since these twelve reasons are true, we can deduce (1) that no other joy can compare to the joy of salvation, (2) that heaven’s fullness of joy must be inexpressibly glorious since what is experienced on earth is so wonderful, (3) that we are bound to love Jesus for procuring and providing such comfort, (4) that the more communion we have with Jesus and the more conformity to him, the more comfort we will enjoy, (5) that we should use diligently the appointed means of obtaining such comfort, and (6) that the loss of such comfort will be grievous.

Having read Colquhoun’s comments, I wonder what I have been doing throughout my Christian life. But I know what I hope I will doing throughout the remainder of it.

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