A Letter From Jesus
“...written not with ink...”
2 Corinthians 3:2-5
Paul wrote several epistles, or letters, that are a part of the New Testament. Peter wrote a couple as well. John wrote three.
But how many epistles did Jesus write? Would you be surprised to know that He did write some epistles? How about this: He is still writing epistles even today! Would you like to read one?
Wait a minute! What about the idea that the faith was “once for all delivered” and other passages that suggest the Lord's written revelation was complete (Jude 3) and the promise that everything the Lord had to reveal to the world would be revealed during the lifetimes of the apostles (John 14:26). How can it be that Jesus is still “writing letters” today long after this? And where are these letters so we can read them?
Think of the faithful Christians you know. The letters that Jesus is writing today are not written with pen and ink, as is the case with the New Testament. Neither are they revelations of new truths, but rather modern illustrations and explanations of what was written back in the first century. With these epistles that Jesus is writing, instead of paper He uses the life of the Christian, the ink is the deeds and words of that faithful Christian, and the plot is the will of the Lord applied to the daily life of the faithful. Consider: as a disciple you are a letter of Christ to the world!
“You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God…” (2 Corinthians 3:2-5).
Read by All (vs. 2)
The lives of God's people ought to say something distinctive to the world. This has always been the case (Isaiah 43:10-13). This means that we live by a different standard - God's. We seek to live righteously, pleasing the Lord in all circumstances. We cannot be God's witnesses if we do not live according to His will. The atheistic German philosopher Frederick Nietzsche issued this challenge; He said, “Show me that you are redeemed and then I will believe in your redeemer.” I doubt that it would have really made much of a difference to him, but he did have a point.
Faithful disciples are true to Him in good times and evil. Every day presents its challenges; will I be spoiled, neglectful and casual in good days? Will I be fearful, distrustful, disloyal on evil days? As a child of God, your life is supposed to give witness to the world that God is real, that He has effected your life favorably, and that He is the true and living God who can be trusted and who gives peace and confidence. God has said, "I, even I, am the Lord; And there is no savior besides Me.” (Isaiah 43:11).
Lights only shine forth in the darkness if they are in bright contrast with that darkness. Sometimes this will cause the child of God to be subject to ridicule (Matthew 5:11,12). But at the same time, there will be a vivid testimony for all who take time to notice (Matthew 5:16).
There is no way to be a readable letter of Christ, a witness of God, a light shining forth in the darkness, without obeying Jesus and holding fast His word (Philippians 2:12-16).
As letters of Christ, we need to be readable. That means:
1. Avoiding Blurry Ink - Indecipherable or faded print caused by fuzzy living, ill defined priorities and goals - compromise and failure to take a stand; timidity. Desire to please man rather than God
2. Avoiding Misprints - Taking false stands. Doctrinally and/or morally. (John 14:6) - Jesus is the only way to God. - A misprint might say otherwise.
Written With the Spirit of the Living God (vs. 3)
How does one become a letter of Christ written with the Spirit? This occurs when the Spirit's revelation is permitted to write our lives as we obey Him (Galatians 5:22-24). The Spirit bears witness (Romans 8:16,17). This witness is heard and seen in one who is being led by the Spirit. How so? This all has to do with how we are living our lives (Romans 8:12-14) !
Where does the Spirit write? On the heart!
Contrasted with writing on the tablets of stone - that writing revealed us as condemned sinners. This was necessary, but did not fulfill our need for a Redeemer (see the context of 2 Corinthians 3:6-ff; especially vss. 7-9; also Romans 8:1; Galatians 3:19; 24-27).. In Christ, that need for a Redeemer is fulfilled. Is your life a letter written by the Spirit on the tablet of your heart?
A Source of Confidence (vs. 4)
Being a well written epistle of Christ is a source of confidence that by God's grace we are able to succeed in “the day of Christ” - i.e His second coming. What is involved in this success on that day ? Continuing to grow and abounding more and more (Philippians 1:9-11) To grow in our love, knowledge and discernment; to approve excellent things; to have sincerity, to be blameless; to be filled with the fruit of righteousness.
This confidence is a source of strength (Philippians 4:13). It shows itself in a living faith in the power of God and it directly effects our behavior, helping us to maintain righteousness even in the face of opposition (2 Timothy 1:12).
Our Adequacy is From God (vs. 5)
I am adequate to the task because of God's grace and power. Remember Paul: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” He would speak of “Christ in Me” (Galatians 2:20) explaining that while the confidence was his, the power is God's (2 Corinthians 4:7).
This mindset will make one strong! Total surrender and dependence on God taps in on the power of God. Where we are inadequate, God's power takes over and supplies our needs by His grace through our faith. Recognizing this causes us to think of ourselves as being rich, though we know it is by God's doing, our rich blessings come from Him and we are not boastful as though it was of us (1 Corinthians 4:6,7). We simply know that by faith in our powerful God we will not fail.
The letters that Jesus is writing today are not written with pen and ink, as is the case with the New Testament. Neither are they revelations of new truths, but rather modern illustrations and explanations of what was written back in the first century. The paper is the life of the Christian, the ink is the deeds and words of that faithful Christian, and the plot is the will of the Lord applied to the daily life of the faithful. God bless every disciple to be a clear witness to God's power!
By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 15.9; September 2008