Help from Jesus Christ in the Epistles

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Sigrid Fowler

​The New Testament epistles encourage us to seek help from Jesus Christ. We need all sorts of things beyond food, water, and shelter. A longing for comfort, hope, and encouragement beyond human resources may remain even after that hand has reached out to assist when a car breaks down, a house burns, a job comes to a dead end, or a loved one dies. 

Imprisoned in Rome, Paul acknowledged the prayers of the Christians of Philippi and wrote, “I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, this will turn out for my deliverance” (Phil 1:19a, ESV and all). When hedefended himself before Festus, he said: “To this day, I have had the help that comes from God” (Acts 26: 22a). Otherwriters of New Testament letters mention help from Jesus Christ and address the fact in many areas—wisdom, peace, trials and temptations, a sense of inadequacy or guilt, fear or anxiety, a need for hope, mercy, and comfort.

​Writing about the need for wisdom, James says: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1: 5). Paul says of Christ, he “became to us wisdom from God” (I Cor 1: 30a). Do we need peace? Paul knows where it comes from: “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way” (2 Th 3: 16)–his prayer for the Thessalonians. Temptations and trials? James says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1: 2-4). 

​We can bring feelings of inadequacy to God. Paul saysChrist told him, “ ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” (2 Cor 12: 9a). He writes the Romans, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Rom 8: 26). If spiritual warfare is the challenge, “the Lord is faithful,” Paul writes. “He will establish you, and guard you against the evil one”(2 Th 3: 3). And to the Ephesians: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph 6: 10-11).

​We can bring fear and anxiety to Jesus Christ. Paul says: “Don’t be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil 4: 6). John writes: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (I John 4: 18). Is comfort the thing you need? When Paul writes the Corinthians, he seems to overflow on the subject, repeating the word many times: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Cor 1: 3-4). Feelings of guilt are covered by John when he writes: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1: 9)

​Life is full of challenges. John assures us that our needs have been met, whatever the situation: “and this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him” (I John 5: 14-15). Paul writes: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me. . . . And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4: 13,19). “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Rom 8: 32). Peter sums it all up: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pet 1: 3).