Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #236 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading 2 Corinthians 3 today and our focus is on Christians Are Letters to A Lost and Dying World. + Why Do YOU Live Where You Live? We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new in listeners in SWAZILAND! Thanks for listening! Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
As mentioned before, most nights our family gathers in the living room for the extremely generically named, “Bible time.” I need to have a word with our marketing department, I guess. But at Bible time, you guessed it, we read a chapter of the Bible every night and pray. Sometimes we discuss the chapter, and at the end of tonight’s chapter, one of the teens said, “Can you highlight something from that chapter, please?” I think what they meant is that this is not an easy to understand chapter, and they are right! Just listen to this:
7 Now if the ministry that brought death, chiseled in letters on stones, came with glory, so that the Israelites were not able to gaze steadily at Moses’s face because of its glory, which was set aside, 8 how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? 9 For if the ministry that brought condemnation had glory, the ministry that brings righteousness overflows with even more glory. 10 In fact, what had been glorious is not glorious now by comparison because of the glory that surpasses it. 11 For if what was set aside was glorious, what endures will be even more glorious. (2nd Corinthians 3:7-11)
This is not a passage that is immediately clear to us what exactly Paul is talking about. To the Israelites, it would have been much clearer that he is discussing Moses and the ten commandments, and that Paul is telling us that the New Covenant is superior – and has greater glory than the Old Covenant. As Peter says about Paul:
He [Paul] writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. 2nd Peter 3:16
So, yes, you are not alone if you’ve ever struggled to understand parts of the Bible. Even the apostle Peter says that some of the things that Paul writes are very difficult to understand! Let’s go ahead and read our short chapter, and then we will discuss how you and I are letters from God written to a world that needs Jesus.
2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. 3 You show that you are Christ’s letter, delivered by us, not written with ink but with the Spirit of the living God—not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. 2nd Corinthians 3:2
Of all the descriptions of Christians in the Bible, “living letters” might seem to be one of the strangest, until you begin to grasp what is meant. God sent Jesus as a messenger and missionary to the world. He came with a message of good news, and He taught that message everywhere. In the same way that Jesus was sent – as a messenger and missionary from God, so we are sent by Jesus with a message for the world. As such, we are very much supposed to be like living, breathing and walking letters containing the good news of God and the teachings of Jesus, as we see in the Great Commission:
19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
We have a message, and that message is what Jesus has done (crucified and resurrected) for us and what He has taught us. That is one of the reasons why that supposed Francis of Assisi quote, “Preach the gospel always, if necessary, use words,” is so silly. The good news IS WORDS. The teachings of Jesus are WORDS. Yes, our deeds and character should match our words, but we are to be a people of communication – we are living letters! (I should note here that Francis of Assisi never uttered those words so often attributed to him. Francis was an extremely powerful preacher and communicator of the words of God. His biographer said of him:
His words were neither hollow nor ridiculous, but filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, penetrating the marrow of the heart, so that listeners were turned to great amazement.
As living letters, we must be about the business of sharing the Words of Jesus and the actions of Jesus. Spurgeon spurs us on towards this truth, writing:
The position which you occupy in society is not an accidental one; it has not been decreed to you by a blind, purposeless fate; there is predestination in it, but that predestination is wise, and looks towards a merciful end: you are placed where you are that you may be a preserving salt to those around, a sweet savour of Christ to all who know you. The methods of divine grace have ordained a happy connection between you and the people with whom you associate; you are a messenger of mercy to them, a herald of good tidings, an epistle of Christ. The surrounding darkness needs you, and therefore it is written, “Among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” You are intended to warn and rebuke some, to entreat and encourage others. To you the mourner looks for comfort and the ignorant for instruction; let them never look in vain. Be the true friend of men, observe their condition before God, and endeavour to reclaim them from their wanderings. If Joseph was sent to Egypt that he might save his father’s house alive, you also are sent where you are for the sake of some hidden ones of the Lord’s chosen family. If Esther was placed in the court of a heathen king for the deliverance of her nation, so are you, my sister, called to occupy your present position for the good of the church of Christ. Look ye to it, brethren, lest ye miss your life’s object, and live in vain.
C. H. Spurgeon, “Conversions Desired,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 22 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1876), 133–134.
Bible Memory verses for the month of August: 4 Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, 5 is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs. 6 Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-6
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