The Living Epistle
2 Corinthians 3:1-5
Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, letters of commendation to you…

A letter implies —

I. AN ABSENT PERSON WHO SENDS IT; for in the actual presence of friend with friend letters become unnecessary. Now Christ is for a time absent, having gone into the heavens. In His absence He does not forget the world, but communicates with it by letters written on the hearts of His saints.

II. A PERSON OR PERSONS TO WHOM IT IS SENT. There is no class to whom Christ's message is not addressed. It may be a message of warning to the unconverted, of caution to the careless, of guidance to the perplexed, of comfort to the saddened, of hope to the desponding. Shall we not take care that it is a full letter that Christ sends by us, written all over, and rich in instruction and encouragement? Shall we not see that it is a well-written and legible letter? Let the life, the character, the conduct, all be so plain and consistent that none shall doubt whose we are, and to whose grace we bear witness.

III. MESSAGES. What are those which should be read in the heart and life of a Christian?

1. The freedom of the Saviour's love towards a sinner. The characters of converted men, and their histories before they were converted, may be infinitely various. But they are all alike in that they are sinners, and sinners saved, and all of grace, from the first moment of solemn conviction till the time that they found peace. Would we see Christ's love to the sinner and His power to save? — Look at them. May it not be with many of them, as with St. Paul, that for this cause they obtained mercy, that in them first Christ .Jesus might show forth a pattern of all long-suffering? Would we know that the love of Christ is free as the air we breathe, and broad as universal man? Would we know that there is no sin so deep as to be beyond the merits of the atonement, no spiritual ruin so absolute as to be beyond the power of grace? Learn it all here in these saved sinners; read the message of the Saviour in these loving epistles of Christ, "written with the Spirit of the living God."

2. The sufficiency of Divine grace — the power of the Spirit of Christ to regenerate the heart, and to turn the proud and stubborn will to God. What the strength of sin is we know in our personal experience only too well; but we never really know till we know it by experience, just as a mall may gaze long on a swollen river as it rolls its fall waters towards the cataract below, and yet may never know its fatal strength till he is himself upon the current, vainly struggling with all his might to stem the fatal force which is hurrying him onwards to his death. I fancy that there are none, not excepting the most reckless of men, without some experience of the power of evil over them. Where, then, shall be your hope but in the Spirit of God? But how shalt thou know that the unseen Spirit is willing to help thee, or, if willing, competent to make thee a conqueror? Why, here is the epistle of Christ to assure thee of it. Look at this saved man. The whole course of his nature is changed, and flows towards God. He now loves what once he hated, hates what once he loved. He was once just like thyself.

3. The certainty of the promises and the deep inward peace and joy which are the inheritance of the children of God. Who has ever heard a Christian man say that he was disappointed in Christ, or did not find Him the precious and perfect Saviour he had believed Him to be? Ask the man of the world if he has found happiness in excitement, in wealth, iii honour and ambition, and he will frankly tell you, with a sigh, "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity."

(Canon Garbett.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you?

WEB: Are we beginning again to commend ourselves? Or do we need, as do some, letters of commendation to you or from you?

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