Summary: Just as Paul encourages the people of the Corinthian church to become epistles upon which God writes of His love and mercy, so too we are to become epistles carrying that message to others.
The Signature of All Things
2 Corinthians 3:2-17, 4:1, 7-10, 16
Today I would like to challenge you to become epistle’s of Christ, not ambassadors, not apostles, but epistle’s for as Paul teaches, “You are our epistle written in the heart, known and read by all men.” Maybe we have thought that being able to write a great book in praise of the glory of God would be the most wonderful thing to which we might aspire. It would, of course, be wonderful. But the Apostle Paul maintains that it is not the most wonderful thing to which we might aspire. There is something even more wonderful… something that surpasses great books, surpasses the greatest symphony, surpasses the greatest poem, and surpasses the worth of even the most eloquent sermon. That great and wondrous thing is the ability to elicit, to mirror and bring forth the remembrance of that which is written, so to speak, on the heart of others. God’s signature is written deep in the heart of all living beings. When we become an epistle that can be read, we become a mirror that reveals that signature, the lost image of God. We become epistles, that is, letters that convey the mercy and love of the Lord Jesus Christ. And so today I challenge you to first of all become such a letter or epistle yourself, and secondly to carry that letter to others.
In order to become such a message of God’s mercy and love, we ourselves must allow God to remake and fashion us as such. Paul praises the Corinthian church and challenges them to live up to this high calling when he writes to them in verse 3—“Clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered to by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, upon the heart.”
I can preach and preach to you, but only the Spirit of the living God can open your eyes that you might see the message that lies behind my words. I do not wish to persuade you with words. Words are but a catalyst, a part of the mirror being held to your eyes that you might discover the epistle being written in your heart by the Holy Spirit, and learn to see God’s signature on that letter. And, of course, for my words to be authentic, I myself must truly be an epistle from God, even as our Lord Jesus Christ was an epistle from God. For my words to be effective, others must be able to see Jesus in my heart. And the same is true for you. Only the Holy Spirit can cause you to see my words to a living epistle in your heart so that the message is carried forward to others.
People are not transformed by words alone, but rather by yielding to the influence of the Holy Spirit which brings illumination and liberating acceptance of those words. And it may not have been so much the words of our Redeemer which brought about the change in those to whom he ministered as it was the epistle from His Father written upon His heart. This is true for us as well today. Great words, great speeches, and huge crowds are meaningless unless the Holy Spirit moderates those words touching the heart strings of the one for whom the epistle is intended. And the best way for us to assist this process is by becoming living letters from God, by allowing the Holy Spirit to write God’s message of mercy and love upon our hearts. Then, when coming into contact with us, others may see something in us that causes them to change. That thing is Jesus Christ.
We can become such a love letter from God by yielding to the Holy Spirit which seeks to write that epistle upon our heart. Paul understood that the Old Testament had been misunderstood by the people of his day. The same may be said today of the New Testament. The New Testament is frequently misunderstood. For those who have not seen the love and mercy of God written upon the heart of Jesus, for those who have not with the help of the Holy Spirit experienced the veil of misunderstanding being lifted, such as these live still in a state of blindness to the redemptive love and mercy of our Heavenly Father. And yet the whole of creation strains for understanding. The whole of creation seeks to read the epistle of God. We then, who are called to be living epistles of the Lord, carriers of living letters written upon our heart by the Holy Spirit, are to be the healers restoring sight to those yearning to see, the spiritually blind. This is our mission, our task, just as it was for our Lord Jesus Christ. We are called to pick up His mantle, to become living epistles, living letters from the Creator.