2Co 3:1-3 “Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you? 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.”
In the previous chapter of this epistle, Paul has reminded the church that he and his fellow laborers have come speaking the word of God in Christ. Based on this reminder of their evident calling and deliverance by God, he asks if they need to introduce themselves again as being the servants of God. This strikes at the heart of every believer, even today. After God has proven in our lives the authority of His word, do we still question that authority or its validity?
We only have to look to the word of God (as revealed to us by the Holy Ghost) and its effect in our lives to know the truth of it. We have been made partakers of the same grace that was given to Paul, Apollos, Peter, Timothy, Titus, and all other faithful servants of the Living God. By that same grace, we hear and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ today. As we go among God’s people, it is His power and presence that commends us.
To that end, those to whom we have been blessed to preach the gospel still are our epistle of commendation today. Every pastor carries in his heart the memory and the love of those with whom he has labored and served. Even after the passing of nearly 50 years of preaching the gospel, I still hold in my heart the joy of serving the Lord’s people in different places and circumstances. Our labor among God’s people I manifested to the community (read of all men) around us.
Our joy in serving the Lord’s people is found in the repeated assurance that our Lord Christ still moves and works in the hearts of His people. The work of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit cannot be hidden. It is made apparent (manifestly declared) as it changes our lives as individuals and as a body of believers. This epistle of the heart is not written by the mundane will of men.
It should strike unbounded joy and wonder in the hearts of God’s people to realize that their hope and confidence in the Lord does not come from the preacher. Instead, it is written with the Spirit of the Living God! It is by the direct influence of God in the heart of each individual. This is a very personal and deliberate working of God in our hearts and lives.
We often use the expression “written in stone” to mean that something is unquestionable or unbreakable. However, the very earliest example of God’s word written in stone shows us that it can be broken. Even as the law of God was being given to Moses, the children of Israel were breaking those laws. The first time Moses came down from that mountain, he cast the stones to the ground and they broke (Exo 32:19).
Today, God does not write His law (or His epistle) in stone. Instead, it is written on the fleshy tables of the heart. We have a heart of flesh to be written upon because God has made it so. God removes our heart of stone and gives us a heart of flesh (Eze 11:19, 36:26).
May we rejoice and give God the glory that we are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ!