Episode #152. Today we’ll read 2nd Corinthians chapter 3 together: Paul calls the Corinthian Christians living letters and contends that the new ministry of the Spirit will be even more glorious than the old ministry under Moses.
Joy: You’re listening to the Lifting Her Voice podcast, Episode #152. Today we’ll read 2nd Corinthians chapter 3 together: Paul calls the Corinthian Christians living letters and contends that the new ministry of the Spirit will be even more glorious than the old ministry under Moses.
Welcome to the Lifting Her Voice podcast. I’m your host, Joy Miller, and I invite you to grab your Bible and join me as we simply read God’s word together. Some things require discipline and sometimes that’s just not easy to muster by yourself, no matter how badly you want to do it or how much you know you should. It’s just easier to do it with a friend. So, refill your coffee or tea, get comfortable in your favorite chair and follow along as I read aloud. I’m so glad you’re here!
I’ve learned so much from teaching kids in children’s ministries. I’ve learned a lot about being simple and sincere. It was in Vacation Bible School that I learned the ABCs of Salvation. At VBS, we spend all week telling kids stories from the Bible that introduce them to the story of Jesus and how His sacrificial death saved us from the judgement of God, which is death. When a child – or an adult – feels the tug of the Holy Spirit on their own spirit, we use the ABCs as a framework to respond to that leading. You’ve probably heard them before:
A: Admit that you are a sinner and repent. Repent means to turn around or to change direction. We turn away from our sin and turn towards God.
B: Believe that Jesus is God’s Son and receive His gift of forgiveness from sin.
C: Confess to God, and other people, that Jesus is your savior and that He is the Lord of your life.
I just found by accident an article pointing out that the ABCs are not the Gospel. And that’s true! They are a response to the Gospel. I’ll put the link to that article in the show notes. And tomorrow, I’ll share with you a tool developed by Lifeway for actually telling the Gospel, whether it be to kids…or adults.
2 Corinthians Chapter 3
Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are Christ’s letter, delivered by us, not written with ink but with the Spirit of the living God — not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
Such is the confidence we have through Christ before God. It is not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God. He has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
New Covenant Ministry
Now if the ministry that brought death, chiseled in letters on stones, came with glory, so that the Israelites were not able to gaze steadily at Moses’s face because of its glory, which was set aside, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry that brought condemnation had glory, the ministry that brings righteousness overflows with even more glory. In fact, what had been glorious is not glorious now by comparison because of the glory that surpasses it. For if what was set aside was glorious, what endures will be even more glorious.
Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness. We are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from gazing steadily until the end of the glory of what was being set aside, but their minds were hardened. For to this day, at the reading of the old covenant, the same veil remains; it is not lifted, because it is set aside only in Christ. Yet still today, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their hearts, but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.
Those false teachers were creating havoc in the Corinthian church. Every time Paul turned around; he was having to defend himself to this group of people that he had literally brought to Christ. In his usual tongue-in-cheek style – especially when he was irritated – Paul begins this part of the letter by asking a couple of questions.
I didn’t really understand the first question until I read the John MacArthur ESV Study Bible Notes. I guess it’s true that I don’t really get sarcasm. MacArthur says the Greek word for “commend” means “to introduce.” So Paul’s actually asking if he needs to re-introduce himself and if the Corinthian Christians don’t remember who he is.
Apparently, the false teachers were also accusing Paul of not having the appropriate documents to prove his authority. Hence, the second caustic question. What a waste of time! I’m gonna put myself out there and say this: My experience has been that when people spend more time side-stepping and creating discontent – even if they know they’re hearing the truth – are doing so because they don’t want to change.
In 2 Timothy 4:3, Paul says this: For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear what they want to hear. It’s so true, isn’t it? It was true in Bible times, and, dare I say, it’s true now.
Even More Glorious
Finally, I don’t want you to be confused about all that back and forth gloriousness. The Ten Commandments – or the Decalogue for you scholars out there – was chiseled on stone, and soon after the rest of God’s Law was added. Paul called it a ministry of death because it brought knowledge of sin and no one can satisfy its demands and therefore, we are condemned by it.
But, it was glorious – Paul was not denying that – because it reflected God’s nature, His will and character. And Exodus tells us that Moses’ face was shining with that reflected glory. So much so that the Israelites could not look at him for long. What Paul is suggesting is that if that much glory came with the giving of the law that brought death, just imagine how much more will come with the ministry of the Spirit that brings righteousness. I’m excited right along with Paul. How about you? Let’s pray.
Father, here we are again, thanking You. This New Covenant – this ministry of righteousness – is beyond what we could have imagined or even hoped for. Thank You once again for Your redemptive plan; for giving us Christ. I pray, Holy Spirit, that You have pricked the spirit of someone within the sound of my voice who doesn’t know Jesus as their personal Savior. Soften their heart and give them the ability to see and admit their sinful nature. Cause them to know that they are not alone. We all fall short of this glory of God. I pray earnestly that You would help them to continue the conversation with You from their heart, asking forgiveness and committing to chase after Jesus for the rest of his or her life on this earth. Because of Jesus and in His name, Amen.
Thank you for joining me here today. I pray God will grow in you what has been planted and watered here. In this time of unprecedented struggle worldwide, we can look to God for guidance and comfort. Be sensitive to those in your circle of influence who need a word of encouragement and invite them to join us. If you like this show, it would be great if you give it a five-star review. Don’t forget to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. See you right here tomorrow. Be well!
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible(r), Copyright (c) 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible(r) and CSB(r) are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
Bible Study Resources
- CSB Study Bible – Hardcover or Kindle!
- The Bible Project’s Bible Basics – Free!
- Every Bible You Could Ever Want!
- The Bible Hub – Free!
- Bible Study Tools – Free!
- The Bible Project– Free!
- Want to use your tablet for Bible reading? Consider Kindle .
- I love Audible! Try it for free!
- Want it? FaithGear has it!
- Wear your faith! Christian Strong
- Bet Hannon Business Websites designed and maintains my website.
- Title of song used in the podcast is 3 Joys & the Truth, by Daniel O’Connor
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. That means if you purchase anything, I may get a small commission. This does not cost you anything and it helps offset the costs of the podcast. Thank you in advance.
View my Broadcast License.