“It is the presence of God that makes all things sweet and comfortable.” – Richard Sibbes
The Puritans wrote a lot about comfort. But their idea of comfort is not the American ideal of “ease of life” or “freedom from pain”, rather they were describing the solely Christian experience of assurance. Christian assurance is the confidence that God has and will keep His promises. Our assurance wavers – physical trials beg us to wonder if God is still for us; sinfulness begs us to wonder if we are actually saved or lacking something in salvation; or the chaos of a fallen world begs us to wonder if God is still sovereign and good. We need assurances, we need to know God keeps His promises.
There is no greater evidence of God’s fidelity and power to promise-keep than the resurrection of Jesus Christ. What God promised, He put into motion. What God put into motion, He was powerful to finish. When all earthly hope was buried along with Jesus in the tomb, God’s fidelity and power sparked life into Jesus’ body and a hope into our hearts. This is not a weak hope but a pure hope, for by His kept-promise God restores us to Himself. This is what the Puritans meant by comfort, our reconciliation to God through Christ’s resurrection assures of all good things in God.
Christians do not receive ease of life or freedom from pain from the resurrection but an assurance that God is who He says He is and He does what He promises to do.
So, where does the deep assurance of God’s eternal, impervious, and personal saving work come from? From the believer’s share in Christ’s resurrection! Here is 1 Peter 1:3-5:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable,undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. You are being guarded by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
Or, where does our deep assurance of freedom from sin and temptation come from? From the believer’s share in Christ’s resurrection! Listen to Romans 6:1-5:
What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we were buried with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of his resurrection.
Or, where does the deep assurance of God’s faithfulness and power to continue His gospel mission? From the reality of Christ’s resurrection! Listen to 1 Corinthians 15:1-5:
Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel I preached to you, which you received, on which you have taken your stand and by which you are being saved, if you hold to the message I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve.
But what if I need assurance that suffering for the sake of the gospel is the right and good? Look to your share in Christ’s resurrection! Listen to Philippians 3:7-11:
But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them as dung, so that I may gain Christand be found in him…My goal is to know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death,assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead.
As I look at these verses I see two things our resurrection assurance provides – an assurance that we have received much and an assurance that we can risk much. The assured life is both content in all things and puts all things on the line for the sake of God’s glory. Maybe two good questions for each of us to consider this Easter season are: Am I content in the Christian comfort I have received in Christ’s resurrection? Am I giving up my American comfort to strive for godliness and the gospel?
“Having given up ourselves to God, let us comfort our souls that God is our God. When riches, and men, and our lives fail, yet God is ours.” – Richard Sibbes