Summary: I think you can tell when someone has been with Jesus…the proof is in the pudding, and you can see it all over their face! Taste and see that the Lord is good! Link inc. to formatted text, audio, PowerPoint.
The Proof is in the Pudding
The world wants proof, and we have it, I believe. And I rejoice in sharing proofs from science, archaeology, medicine, history, etc. But I don’t need those proofs personally anymore, because I’ve found much better proof. It’s not proof that unbelievers may accept, but it is more powerful to me than any of the things listed above. The proof is changed lives, visible fruit…bodies and faces and hearts touched and changed! Jesus said by their fruits ye shall know them.
Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you? [2Cor. 3:1].
Paul is asking, "Do I need a letter of recommendation from my employer? Do I need a letter from God testifying that I am His minister?" Paul says, "No, I don’t need to have that" -- for this reason:
Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:
Forasmuch as ye are 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 [2Cor. 3:2-3].
The proof of the effectiveness of any ministry isn’t whether or not it has a recommendation from God. He is not giving out letters of recommendation; the proof lies in the epistles that are written in the fleshly tables of the heart. I read many letters from folk who have turned to Christ because of our internet ministry. They are letters of commendation. They are proof!
Paul says to the Corinthian believers, "You are our epistles written in our hearts, known and read of all men."
And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward [2Cor. 3:4].
This gives me confidence. I know the Bible is the Word of God. When I was in seminary, I believed it was the Word of God. I think that intellectually it can be determined that it is the Word of God. But today I don’t even need the intellectual demonstrations anymore. I’ve passed that. To me it is very simple -- the proof of the Word of God is what it does. They say that the proof of the pudding is in the eating. God put it like this: "O taste and see that the LORD is good . . ." (Ps. 34:8). This is His challenge to you.
Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God [2Cor. 3:5].
I am sure that you have already sensed the weakness of the apostle Paul in this epistle of 2 Corinthians. But Paul could say, "For when I am weak, then am I strong" (2Cor. 12:10).
God is not looking for some big something or some big somebody. If He had wanted that, He couldn’t use me and He couldn’t use you. God chooses the weak things of this world, little things, insignificant things to accomplish His purposes. Our sufficiency is of God.
Contrasts Between The Old And New Covenants (3:6-18)
Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life [2Cor. 3:6].
We see here a contrast between the old covenant (the Old Testament) and the new covenant (the New Testament). There is a contrast here in several different ways.
"Not of the letter, but of the spirit." In the Old Testament, and specifically in the Law, the letter kills; the letter of the Law actually condemns us. The Law says that you and I are guilty sinners. Those letters which were written on the tablets of stone condemned man. The Mosaic Law never gave life. That is the contrast he is making here. The letter kills. "For the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life."
I challenge you to name somebody who was saved by the Law. Did you know that even Moses, the law-giver, could not be saved by the Law? Do you know why not? He was a murderer! Also David broke the Law even though he was a man after God’s own heart. You can’t be saved by keeping the Law. The Law kills you; the Law condemns you.
But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away [2Cor. 3:7].
The old covenant, the Law, was a ministration of death. When it says that it was written and engraved on stones, we know he is talking about the Ten Commandments.