This Week's Gospel Sermons
Listed Below Are Sermons Presented By Paul Earnhart During Our October 2012 Gospel Meeting At Jackson Drive. Click On The Links Below To Listen Or Download The Sermon In MP3 Audio Format:
Jackson Drive 2012 Fall Series
"Early Parables Of Jesus From Matthew"
Wednesday @ 7:00 PM
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October 28, 2012
A Living Letter
Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some, letters of commendation to you or from you? 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. (2Corinthians 3:1-4)
Paul had enemies because he preached the truth. To discredit him, some had come to Corinth boasting of their letters of commendation, probably from Jews living in Jerusalem. They wanted to appear as if they were genuine ministers of the gospel by holding up letters written by men. Paul did not need any such letter with the Corinthian Christians because he had converted them. They were his letters. They were really letters of Christ since Christ had dictated the letter and they were the product of it.
The living letters of this text do not refer to the Bible itself, even though the word of God is living. “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12). The people of God are referred to in the Bible with many figures of speech—children, stones, and here, a letter.
The writer is Christ.
Christ is the author. “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.” (Hebrews 1:1,2). No one can be a Christian who is authored by anyone other than Christ. All authority is his. “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.’” (Matthew 28:18).
The copier of the letter was Paul.
It was in the sense that Paul preached and converted the Corinthians that they were his letters. Anyone who faithfully speaks or writes and proclaims the message of Christ could be called a copier. The one who proclaims, like Paul, is not expressing a message of his own, but the message of God. The proclaimer merely repeats or copies the message as delivered by God. This message has another quality—all people could read the message of the example of the Corinthians. When Paul traveled from place to place, he always held up as encouragement for others the actions of other Christians (Romans 1:8; 1Thessalonians 1:4,8).
The tablets on which
these letters are written are people.
Again, there are two aspects of the writing. First, these Corinthians were people who let writing take place upon their hearts—people who heard and obeyed the words of God. They were people who had fellowship with God because they had heeded His call. “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1Corinthians 1:9). Notice that Paul says that this writing is not on stones but on the warm impressionable heart—the intellect of man. This is the same attitude of which James wrote: “Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.” (James 1:21).
The second heart under consideration was that of Paul (2Corinthians 3:2). The response of the Corinthian Christians was written in his and his companions’ hearts. The Corinthians had made an impression on Paul. He loved them dearly—even to the point of rebuking them. “For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears; not so that you would be made sorrowful, but that you might know the love which I have especially for you.” (2Corinthians 2:4). All men, even now, can read the attestation of the power of God in the writing of Paul.
The writing is not with pen and ink
but with the Spirit.
Obviously, Paul did write or dictate physical letters using pen and ink. After all we are studying a one of his letters to the Corinthian Christians. However, here he is not talking about the deliverance of the gospel truth, but with the manner of making one a Christian. That which was written with pen and ink was certainly the message of the Spirit. “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.” (1Corinthians 2:12-13). But, here he is talking about the impression which the Spirit with this message makes upon the individual who hears it, which in turn changes that individual. His change in his actions show that he is a letter. Those written with the Spirit of God look like, or can be read as being begotten, by the Spirit of God.
The thing written in the living letter is of Christ.
The mind of Christ is written in the mind of the man. As we have already noticed, this is authored by Christ and revealed by the Spirit; and this writing takes place again and again and again as the message is taught, making new living letters. So the writing is of Christ in the sense of originating with or belonging to Christ. But, the message is also one of Christ in the sense of being about Christ. “We preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1Corinthians 1:23-24). “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” (1Corinthians 2:2).
The publication of these letters takes place when the lives of the individuals change.
Christ shows in the Christian. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16). What a publication! Someone has written:
“You are writing a gospel, a chapter a day,
By the things that you do and the things that you say.
Men read what you write, whether faithful or true.
Say! What is the gospel according to you?”
We must allow men to read us. Don’t hide under a bushel. A Christian—a living letter—does not belong in a monastery. Some will read these letters who will not read the Bible. “We are the only Bible the careless world will read.” How are you being read?
—S. Scott Richardson Sr.