Guest post by Dustin Shramek
I mentioned the call and the comfort of the gospel in my last guest post (Sin - Confrontation - Heart - Idol - Gospel). Both are essential if we want to see true change in our lives. Imagine a man who abused his daughter. Our response is generally to give only comfort to the daughter and only focus on the call of the gospel to the father. We will not help that girl be the woman she is meant to be if we merely give her comfort and don’t help her see that the gospel also calls her to respond to her father’s sin not with more sin, but with holiness. If we merely comfort her and don’t warn her about the bitterness in her heart we will not have fully helped her.
At the same time, we would be fools to think that we can merely throw the commands of the gospel at the father and show him all the ways he should be different and think that will make a lick of difference in his life. If there is any hope for change in him he must meet the living God and find the comfort of the gospel. He needs forgiveness. He needs grace.
Certainly in different situations we will focus on the call of the gospel more than the comfort of the gospel or vice versa. But we must never separate them so much that we don’t see how they go hand in hand.
Romans 8:1-17 is a great example of a text that has both call and comfort. I have posted the text below and simply pointed out where we see the comfort and where we see the call of the gospel.
1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. [comfort] 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. [comfort] 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, [comfort] 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. [comfort and call] 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. [call] 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. [comfort and call] 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. [call]
9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. [comfort] 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. [comfort] 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. [comfort]
12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. [call] 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. [call and comfort] 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. [comfort and call] 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” [comfort] 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, [comfort] 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. [comfort and call]