November 29, 2013
II Corinthians 3:1-3
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
On the internet, I Googled “The Ten Bestselling Books Of All Time” and was not surprised to see the Bible in first place! What did surprise me was the book in the number two spot – Quotations From Chairman Mao! However, while Mao Tse-Tung’s work has sold about 900 million copies, the Bible has sold over six billion copies! So I guess God is really more popular than Chairman Mao! Personally, I don’t own a copy of Mao Tse-Tung’s book, but I own around 27 various editions of the Bible. And I have read every one of them!
The problem is that many people do not read the Bible. They may even own a copy, but it is rarely opened and read! Our former landlady when I was in seminary is a case in point. It would be hard to find a nicer person than this wonderful Orthodox Catholic lady. But I did not think she had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as her Savior and Lord. So one day I had the opportunity to sit down with her at her kitchen table and share the good news of Jesus with her. I asked if she had a Bible and her eyes lit up. “Oh yes,” she exclaimed. Then she went to a closet and pulled out a box from the top shelf. As she handed it to me, she proudly told me, “They gave me this when my husband died.” I opened the box and removed a brand new Bible from within – a Bible that had never been opened! And her husband had died 27 years before!!!
Too many people are like that. They may even own a Bible, but they hardly ever open it and read it, let alone study it!
But there is a Bible that they do read! And Saint Paul speaks about this in II Corinthians 3:1 through 3 (NIV):
Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some
people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are
our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show
that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with
ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets
of human hearts.
Paul was addressing problems that had cropped up in the church at Corinth in southern Greece. Some in the church were causing controversy by saying that Paul was not what he was claiming to be – an apostle bearing the absolute truth from God revealed through the incarnation of Jesus Christ. If you study II Corinthians 10:1 through 13:10 you will see a description of some of the dissension with which Paul was dealing. Here are a few summary verses that will give you an idea of what Paul was facing:
• II Corinthians 7:2 – “Open your hearts to us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have defrauded no one.”
• II Corinthians 10:10 – “‘…his letters,’ they say, ‘are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.’ ”
• II Corinthians 11:5 and 6 – “For I consider that I am not at all inferior to the most eminent apostles. Even though I am untrained in speech, yet I am not in knowledge.”
• II Corinthians 12:20 and 21 gives examples of the kinds of things going on among the people of the church at Corinth – “…contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults….uncleanness, fornication, and licentiousness….”
• II Corinthians 13:3 – “…you seek a proof of Christ speaking in me….”
I will close this segment with the following thought: Paul was saying in II Corinthians 3:1 through 3 that the work of the Lord through him and his associates in Corinth was written in the believers’ hearts and lives, not with ink on paper. Now – and until Monday’s blog – think on this and how it applies to you and The Bible All People Read.