Summary: Christians are meant to be living letters of Jesus Christ, bearing a message of good tidings of great joy unto all the world.
Living Letters of Jesus Christ
Text II Corinthians 3:2-3 “Ye are our Epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men, manifestly declared to be the Epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the spirit of the living God, not in tables of stone but in fleshy tables of the heart.”
Christians have been compared to branches in the vine, to sheep in the flock of the good shepherd, to lights in a dark world, to salt which flavors, which preserves, which sweetens and which creates thirst for the water of life. Here in II Cor 3:2-3, to Epistles or letters written with the spirit of the living God, letters carry messages. There are friendly letters, thank you letters, letters of congratulation, letters of sympathy, letters of love. There are also letters of announcement, letters of recommendation, letters of instruction. There are demanding letters, threatening letters, critical letters, and dead letters. Dead letters are communications which due to a faulty address, can not be delivered. Christians are meant to be living letters of Jesus Christ, bearing a message of good tidings of great joy unto all the world.
I. Entire consecration to the task.
If at all possible the P. O. Dept. sees to it that the mail is delivered, rain does not stop the postman. Snow and ice do not stop him. Storms, floods and blizzards may slow him up, but the mail will eventually be delivered.
There were attitudes in the Corinthian church which were hindering the delivery of the message of God. Paul in his first letter to this church, condemned them vigorously for their attitudes and indifference. From the evidence Paul detected strife, pride, and a certain tolerance of the church members regarding evil. Paul said to them, “Your indifferent attitude toward these evil things in your church is hindering your delivery of God’s message. Your attitudes are keeping you from showing progress in the Christian faith. You are only spiritual babies in the Christian life. You should have grown more than that. You should have matured in the faith, to the extent that the people in your circle of influence might see that you are really Christian through and through, that you are going all out for Christ, and that you intend to deliver His message. Christianity will never be very important to us until we gladly allow the spirit of God to write the script for our lives.
The legions of Caesar could not stop the Christian faith. Persecution drove the Christians from one place to another. They left their possessions but the message went with them. They never left it behind. They were never without it. It went with them to prison. In season and out, they tried to deliver it.
These Corinthians read Paul’s letter. There was heart searching. There was conviction, there was repentance. Paul was right. They had been indifferent; their attitudes had been wrong. They would get right with the God. They would get right with one another. They would be Christians through and through. Delivering the message would be primary again. This they did as a church and in his second letter, Paul declared that they were
II Manifestly or openly declared to be letters of Jesus Christ.
Their Christian faith could be seen in action. They were Christ’s. He had redeemed them. He had cleansed them. They belonged to Him, hands, feet, eyes, ears, lip, tongue, faculties, abilities, accomplishments, possessions, everything had been gladly given to Him for His service, and as a consequence of that love offering, their lives were as letters, carrying the love of God to a lost and needy humanity. It took their all in His hands. It couldn’t have been accomplished on less than all.
For example, suppose that they had yielded everything to the Lord save control of their tongue? This church had been marked by strife. They could never have eliminated the strife. An uncontrolled tongue generates strife, keeps it stirred up, your tongue under your control can work havoc with your Christian profession.
The Apostle James has a lot to say about an uncontrolled tongue. He says, “If you listen to such an instrument, you will hear both blessing and cursing and the non-Christians will hear both.” James adds you will hear lies, and you will hear the truth, and non-Christians will hear both. James, those who listen will sometimes be helped by words of sympathy, words of encouragement, words of kindness...they might also hear vicious things produced by the same tongue.
James said, “Brethren, these things out not so to be.” They will be as long as you want the control of your tongue and despite all that you may want to do, few will have cause to regard you as a living letter of Jesus Christ.