2 Corinthians 3:1-5
Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, letters of commendation to you…
I. THE CHRISTIAN IS AN EPISTLE OF CHRIST.
1. Its writer. "Christ."
2. Its purport, Christ has blotted out "guilty" and written in "no condemnation." He has erased "earthly" and supplied "heavenly." Licentiousness has given place to purity, profanity to prayerfulness, selfishness to love, etc. We judge of the authorship of an epistle, not merely by the penmanship and signature, which a clever forger might imitate, but also by its contents. A hypocrite, a false professor, is like forged letter.
3. Its design. To convey the mind of Christ to men. Men may refuse to listen to the gospel, but they cannel ignore the testimony of a consistent Christian life.
II. THE RESPONSIBILITY DEVOLVING ON THE CHRISTIAN AS AN EPISTLE OF CHRIST.
1. As a letter is written for the purpose of being seen, a Christian should let his Christianity be visible. We do not write letters merely for the sake of writing them, but that they may be read. So, if Christians do not let their Christianity be seen in their lives, they defeat one chief end which Christ had in view in making them what they are. Those who are Christians in name only are in no sense of the term epistles of Christ; ii were vain to exhort such to let what Christ has written in them be seen by men, for they have nothing to show.
2. A letter being written for the purpose of being read should be legible. A letter may be so written that it is impossible to make out the writer's meaning. Such a letter may be worse than useless, for, owing to its illegibility, it may convey a wrong meaning. When the letters of men are illegible ii is the fault of the writers, but this is not the case with Christ's epistles. He never writes illegibly. The fault lies on the side of the epistles themselves. Note one or two things which render writing illegible.
(1) Indistinctness of character. One word may be mistaken for another, and thus the whole meaning of a sentence may be altered. And Christians may be illegible as epistles of Christ through the wavering, unsteady character imparted to the writing that is in them by their want of decision for Christ and their compromises with the world. What we want is boldness on the part of Christians in testifying for Christ in their everyday lives.
(2) Blots. Perhaps the most important word in a sentence is completely hidden by a blot. Alas! in how many cases is the testimony of a Christian for Christ made of none effect by the unsightly blot of some gross inconsistency, some dark sin, which the eye of the world rests continually on, and refuses to see anything else.
3. A letter is written that it may be understood. What prevents letters from being intelligible?
(1) Omissions. Were the little word "not," e.g., left out, the meaning of a sentence would be entirely reversed. In like manner, the lack of one essential Christian grace-charity, e.g. — if it do not render the character of a Christian unintelligible, makes it less easily understood.
(2) Contradictions. We cannot possibly make out the meaning if one sentence says one thing and the next the opposite. And haw can men understand our testimony for Christ if we have one kind of conduct for the Church and another for the world?
(J. Bogue, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you?