Consolation & Comfort
May 1, 2016

C. R. Oliver

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May 1, 2016

Consolation & Comfort

          These two elements (consolation and comfort) team to fill a great need in the body of Christ today. Buffeted with daily outbursts of mistrust and deception and coupled with a barrage of misguided "words" from questionable sources, the people of God seek consolation and comfort. They seek a steady hand, a quietening word and an understanding support. So, this month's newsletter reveals the true sources of comfort and exposes the false comfort laid before many.

Note: Traditionally, this newsletter is setup for those wishing a resource for a Bible Study format, but creates interesting reading for those who seek a non-agendized format.

The Twins: Born from the same parent root
          Consolation and comfort come from similar root words and are related very closely to the great "paraclete (one who comes alongside)" known as the Holy Spirit. Here are the textual derivations of the two.

paraklesis (par-ak'-lay-sis); from NT:3870; imploration, hortation, solace:
KJV - comfort, consolation, exhortation, intreaty.
(Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek- Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

parakaleo (par-ak-al-eh'-o); from NT:3844 and NT:2564; to call near, i.e. invite, invoke (by imploration, hortation or consolation):
KJV - beseech, call for, (be of good) comfort, desire, (give) exhort (-ation), intreat, pray.
The pronouncement of Jesus that the Father would send a Helper (the Holy Spirit) was promised to be a close beside "Helper" or "Comforter."
NT:3875 parakletos (par-ak'-lay-tos); an intercessor, consoler:
KJV - advocate, comforter.
Paraketos was the exact word John used in John 14:15-18.
15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever;

17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. 18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

John 14:26-27
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My Name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

John 15:26-27
26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: 27 And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.

Thank the Lord for John's writing of these passages, revealing a primary source of reliable comfort-the Holy Ghost.

Biblical Sources of True Comfort:
          l. God, Himself, is shown many places in Scripture in the role of Comforter.
          2. Comfort that comes directly from Scripture.
          3. Comfort that comes from the Holy Spirit.
          4. Comfort coming from the hearts of saints, as they minister to others.

I. The Comfort that comes directly from God in His role as Comforter:
          Many times in David's writings, God is shown to actively participate in the comfort of His saints. The Old Testament is rife with examples of His compassion and tenderness-all of them are acts of comfort. One of the most widely quoted of these passages is Psalm 23.
Psalm 23:4
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

A fertile, but much longer, passage is in Hosea, the book of gross infidelity, persistent forgiveness and eventually, restoration. These verses serve as "end time" promises for a despairing people.

Of course, the Hebrew word for comfort is different from its Greek counterpart.
leb (labe); a form of OT:3824; the heart; also used (figuratively) very widely for the feelings, the will and even the intellect; likewise for the centre of anything:
KJV - care for, comfortably
Leb is the word used in Hosea.
Hosea 2:14-20
14 'Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
Will bring her into the wilderness,
And speak comfort to her. (To her inner person)
15 I will give her her vineyards from there,
And the Valley of Achor as a door of hope;
She shall sing there,
As in the days of her youth,
As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.

16 "And it shall be, in that day,"
Says the LORD,
"That you will call Me 'My Husband,'
And no longer call Me 'My Master,'
17 For I will take from her mouth the names of the Baals,
And they shall be remembered by their name no more.
18 In that day I will make a covenant for them
With the beasts of the field,
With the birds of the air,
And with the creeping things of the ground.
Bow and sword of battle I will shatter from the earth,
To make them lie down safely.

19 "I will betroth you to Me forever;
Yes, I will betroth you to Me
In righteousness and justice,
In lovingkindness and mercy;
20 I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness,
And you shall know the LORD.

Most other times in the Old Testament, a different word was used to convey comfort.
nacham (naw-kham'); a primitive root; properly, to sigh, i.e. breathe strongly; by implication, to be sorry, i.e. (in a favorable sense) to pity, console.
KJV - comfort (self), ease [one's self], repent (-eringself,-,).
Isaiah uses this descriptive word nacham in his text.
Isaiah 66:12-13
12 For thus says the LORD:
"Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river,
And the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream.
Then you shall feed;
On her sides shall you be carried,
And be dandled on her knees.
13 As one whom his mother comforts,
So I will comfort you;
And you shall be comforted in Jerusalem."

II. The Comfort which comes from the Scriptures:
          Again, David understood the great power of relying upon the Word of the Lord. Knowing the Scripture, in times of stress and chaos, is a primary steadying source. In health issues there is hope in turning to healing passages, reading them and putting one's faith in what is written. Sadly, most of the congregations have not "owned" what was written and are not as convinced about the source of David's words as he is in the following passages.
Psalm 119:49-50
Remember the word to Your servant,
Upon which You have caused me to hope.
50 This is my comfort in my affliction,
For Your word has given me life.

Psalm 119:76
6 Let, I pray, Your merciful kindness be for my comfort,
According to Your word to Your servant.

Psalm 119:82
2 My eyes fail from searching Your word,
Saying, "When will You comfort me?

Sometimes, even searching the Word leaves one asking the question of Psalm 119:82. However, Paul, in Romans, establishes the authority of the Word over every situation of life. With strong affirmation, he challenges each reader to know what the Scripture has to say about their condition or circumstance. Believers are to be Word People. It is one thing to acknowledge the infallibility of the Bible, but another to embrace it as infallible in every area of one's life.
Romans 15:1-6
We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. 3 For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, "The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me." 4 For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. 5 Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, 6 that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

God is shown to be present in His Word. So, the great power of the Scriptures lies in the fact that God watches over it; He brings it to pass in the faith-filled person who is depending on it. No one can separate the comfort from God Himself and that which is provided in the confidence of His never changing, always active, Word. In Him, there is no shadow of turning (vacillation). His word is Him. The storehouse of His promises offers a comfort the world simply cannot comprehend - but we can!!!

Notice please, the combinations that are used with the word "comfort" throughout the New Testament. Two were mentioned in the title of this work: consolation and comfort. In the passage above are two more: "patience and comfort." Waiting on the manifestation of a promise will often try the patience of the believer - but one element of victory is overcoming the seeming gap between belief and fruition.

III. The Comfort which comes from the Holy Ghost
          The Comforter is described in several ways throughout the Scriptures. His powerful hand is evident in the creation, as well as in the "still small voice" of Elijah's cave. In the following passage, much can be garnered from marshalling the power of the Spirit to surround the believer by walling away the enemies of the soul.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.

"Establishing" is a gigantic aspect of comfort. For someone to be established in a word or work means having enough resources to maintain one's "staying" power, regardless of circumstances. To be established connotes longevity and has the ability to "stand." Oh! When the Holy Spirit establishes something, it is permanent! His open door is such that no man can shut it. "Everlasting consolation" has no end; His "good hope" is enough. The infusion of grace upon all this is "over the top coverage." Listen Church, we are to wait for His establishing grace before we endeavor to conquer.

2Thessalonians 2:16, 17 ought to be the blessing over every departing congregation on Sunday morning. Stalwart Christians are a "demand factor" in this world. When every member of the house of God understands it is the purpose of the Spirit to establish him in good works and the word-immaturity will no longer continue to rule the order of the day.

In the early church, their words and works were established through the comfort of the Spirit.
Acts 9:31
Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.

It is extremely comforting to know the Spirit has your back!
It is comforting to know that as you minister, there will be evidences of miracles, signs and wonders following you.
It is comforting to know jail doors can open supernaturally and prayers are for prevailing, not failing.
It is comforting to know that even if rocks are the response of the crowd, there is an open heaven to receive you.
It is comforting to know that when standing before kings and hostile authorities, the Spirit will cause one to remember long forgotten passages that well up inside to bring power and response.
It is comforting to know that fellowship in the Spirit is something not impossible.
Walking in Holy Ghost comfort is different than receiving an occasional boost.
Walking in the comfort of the Spirit is a continual supply for every need, and such can assure a Paul when he declares it to the Philippians or a David in the Psalms.
Psalm 71:21
21 You shall increase my greatness,
And comfort me on every side.

IV. The Comfort that comes from fellow Believers
          In the Old Testament, one of the admonitions to the prophet Isaiah was to "comfort" God's people.
Isaiah 40:1-5
"Comfort, yes, comfort My people!"Says your God. 2 "Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her, That her warfare is ended, That her iniquity is pardoned; For she has received from the LORD's hand Double for all her sins."
3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness:"Prepare the way of the LORD; Make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be exalted And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough places smooth; 5 The glory of the LORD shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken."

Within the confines of this passage is prophecy about John the Baptist. John quoted this verse in offering the message of repentance to Israel. His presence became a comfort for those believers who had been true to the Word in the face of a deceit - filled clergy. "The mouth of the Lord" is credential enough.

Further into Isaiah, another manifesto is issued. It is the passage Jesus quoted, at the start of His ministry, in Luke 4. His mission statement was encapsulated in these verses.
Isaiah 61:1-3
"The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me,
Because the LORD has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
3 To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.

Paul followed Jesus' example, as the early church believed one of its chief duties was to comfort fellow saints. The purpose of being comforted was to comfort others who faced tribulations. In the anonymity of the modern church, this becomes a missing factor. As constituents face personal battles and overwhelming circumstances it is more necessary than ever to have this ministry.
2 Corinthians 1:3-12
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. 6 Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. 7 And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.

8 For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. 9 Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, 10 who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us, 11 you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through man.

Glean from this passage the wealth of reference to "participation." We are to join Paul and his entourage, involving ourselves in the life events of others. Paul gained comfort from the Corinthian church. They partook of his sufferings and in like manner were "partakers" in his consolation. It is always a reciprocal matter. This is why it is absolutely necessary to always be about the business of building up others and edifying the body of believers. The cyclical nature of these endeavors is explained clearly in verses 3-4. Also, it is great comfort for anyone to know that others are lifting them in prayer, listening in the Spirit in their behalf and doing spiritual warfare for them.

Paul's instruction about comforting one another does not end in edict. It broadens throughout the epistle. His concern for the punished brother, who received "church discipline," ushered in a realm of forgiveness which had been lacking on their part. A great lesson is to be learned in this aspect. First, a brother or sister, who receives discipline over a matter, is more likely to welcome such correction if the model includes a period of "re-establishment" flowing in his or her direction. Such is similar to a child who receives punishment and then crawls up in the father's lap to "get restored."
2 Corinthians 2:5-8
6 This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, 7 so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow.

Notice the admonition to FORGIVE and COMFORT. These attributes form another coupling with comfort. Such should be the nature of the church, instead of leaving a trail of "bludgeoned believers" who have fallen away.

I think at this point, I am reminded of a denomination which made headlines because of the manner in which they passed judgment on one of their prominent pastors. On television, they resembled red hatted Cardinals coming from an ecclesial trial. They were not "restorers." The leaders of that denomination lost an opportunity to be a huge witness concerning Christian love; instead, they displayed only a desire to preserve their dignity.

Paul continually was grateful for the consolation of others.
2 Corinthians 7:13
Therefore we have been comforted in your comfort. And we rejoiced exceedingly more for the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all.

Spiritual refreshing is a part of the work of comfort. Missionaries, especially, need this ministry lavished on them. They need to be refreshed. Often their interactions with churches and individuals are less than lifting. Pastors, in all settings, need such "refreshing." I have sat with pastors in conferences and felt the greatest need they had was not another sermon, but for a genuine "soul brother (Someone they could trust with their inner most person - I guarantee there are few settings for such openness.)."

Paul took a strange turn in Thessalonians. He urged the congregations to comfort one another by studying and proclaiming the second coming of Christ. "With these words" refers to the passage just before this phrase. After all, there is great comfort in knowing there is an end to tribulation and one's King is coming.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

Note: Paul joins "edification" with "comfort" in the following passage. (Here is another coupling.)
I Thessalonians 5:11
Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.

Although some individuals, and even groups, shine in the area of comfort and edification, the majority of folk think such endeavors are only ministry's forte. No, this a congregational duty and blessing.

Comfort is joined with two other partners in the following verses.
1 Corinthians 14:3-5
3 But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. 4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. 5 I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.

This criteria for prophetic utterance is far from adhered to in our momentous day. Thousands of prophetic "words" will be credited to the Lord this year alone - many will be judgment and opinion, based on man's reasoning. Perhaps this is why major emphasis is given to edification in these verses.


Could it be Prophesies are a big vehicle for edification, exhortation and comfort? Prophetic words, tongues and interpretation of tongues, should not be relegated just to Pentecostals. Yes, just as the Baptism of the Holy Ghost is not believed nor practiced in congregations outside Pentecostal realms, does not negate the need for such activity. (I know Baptists, and others, explain away these passages. However, in light of this study, just how wise is such obfuscation? Rejection of the doctrine does not excuse them, or their congregations, from the spiritual duty to edify by these methods. To say one believes the Word requires adherence to its commands.)
Philippians 2:1-5
Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.

Think of the loss to a congregation if the several elements found in the Philippians passage are absent.           1. Consolation in Christ.
          2. Comfort in Love.
          3. Fellowship in the Spirit.
          4. Affection and Mercy.
          5. Personal Joy.
          6. Reciprocal care (preferring another's interest above one's own).

Should these ingredients be missing, a gap occurs in the congregation at large-; a gap often filled by the false and unscrupulous "wolves in sheep's clothing."

V. A look at False Comfort
          Peter's second epistle is filled with descriptions of those offering false hope using twisted Scriptures. Jude chimes in with a treatise that parallels 2 Peter's warnings. All of them must have examined the caution of Zechariah.
Zechariah 10:2-3
2 For the idols speak delusion;
The diviners envision lies,
And tell false dreams;
They comfort in vain.
Therefore the people wend their way like sheep;
They are in trouble because there is no shepherd.
3 "My anger is kindled against the shepherds,

My anger joins God's anger against those who give vain comfort, and believe me, there are a lot of them floating around today. Shepherds, in verse three, should be termed, "clergy." The mess in America today lies squarely in their laps. Choosing to duck the message of the Spirit has landed the church in the wrong pond. Being "off course" is now not an easy correction. Gatekeepers have throttled the prophetic work and muffled the "message from the men of God." There is no venue among congregations that allow an uncensored platform. Like in the days of Jeremiah (who harbored the ONLY word from God) who was silenced by the majority of those who were uttering to the multitudes (having heard nothing from the Lord), we have no testing of the prophets.

This is no new phenomenon.

John Wesley's message was so disdained in his day, the only place he could stand without hassle was atop his father's grave. C. G. Bevington was so harassed among the Congregationalists, he was forced to sleep for weeks in a hay shock. He did this in order to be within distance of the area where God ordered him to minister. He drank snow water and was fed supernaturally by the animals. Bevington ministered in the Twentieth Century.
2 Peter 2:1-3
But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.

2 Peter 2:18-22
For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. 19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. 20 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. 21 For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: "A dog returns to his own vomit," and, "a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire."

Until Next month,

Dr. Cosby R. Oliver, PhD.


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