Monday, 13 July 2015

The Nature of God: Comforter

"If you love me, you will keep my commands; and I will ask the Father, and he will give you another comforting Counselor like me, the Spirit of Truth, to be with you forever. The world cannot receive him, because it neither sees nor knows him. You know him, because he is staying with you and will be united with you."
John 14:15-17
Jesus spoke these words to the eleven remaining disciples after Judas had left the Last Supper. A teacher I respect enormously, Andrew Wommack, describes the three chapters of John's Gospel from 14 through to 16 as a 'Christian Survival Kit' for Jesus's followers.

The first encouragement, repeated many times in the Gospels and - so I've been told but haven't actually counted myself - is an encouragement used 366 time through the scriptures: "Do not let your heart be troubled", a count that comforted me as it means even in a leap-year the voice of God has a different reason for us to rest in Him every day.

The disciples didn't grasp at their last meal with Jesus before His arrest exactly what He was saying. If they had, perhaps the next three days would have been very different for them. Paul wrote later that all Scripture is useful for our teaching (see 2 Timothy 3:16-17) and this holds especially true to the teachings Jesus gave as a comfort to His followers on what we call Maundy Thursday: the night of His arrest.

The promised Holy Spirit would descend on the Apostles at Pentecost and was accompanied by boldness to speak because of the comfort it had bestowed on them. Peter, the same man who had three times denied Christ at His execution now delivered the first sermon:
But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy. I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved.’
“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know — Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. For David says concerning Him: ‘I foresaw the Lord always before my face, For He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken. Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; Moreover my flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Hades, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence.’
“Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. 
Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. “For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”’ “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” 
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” 
Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.
Acts 2-;14-41

The words, inspired by the Holy Spirit, the promised Comforter to come, inspired 3000 people to give their lives to Christ that day. I'm certain English does not do justice to the nature of the words in their original language whether it was spoken in Aramaic or Greek, but the message is one we need to hold on to at this time.

The times are changing. Social change is causing upheaval of societies in a way not seen in a hundred lifetimes. Many practices St Paul specifically condemned as sinful are being embraced by "liberal" teachers as acceptable and not offensive to God, presumably because poor, misinformed Paul didn't have access to 21st century society and it's social norms.

But be comforted.

Allow the Peace only Christ's Holy Spirit can bring to us wash into our lives and let Him bring peace and comfort to us.

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