2 Corinthians 4: Living Letters

This entry is part 157 of 159 in the series 365 Key Chapters of the Bible

If you are a Christian, you are a “living letter” (2 Corinthians 3:1–3). Your life demonstrates the truth of the gospel, demanding a response from all around you. At the end of the day, there can be no neutral response to Christ. We will either walk in the blindness of the world or in the light of the Holy Spirit.

Three Barriers to Trusting Christ

There is a blindness in this world—the truth of the gospel is hidden from many. There are three barriers that keep people from coming to faith in Jesus:

  1. Emotional: People have had bad experiences with certain brands of “Christianity,” and this blocks them from understanding the truth and beauty of the gospel. Many liberal professors at certain seminaries have this trouble; due to traumatic experiences, they have come to hate Scripture.
  2. Intellectual: This is caused by bad information; many people’s knowledge of the Bible is secondhand. These objections are really opportunities for us to clarify the nature of Scripture. After all, there are no truly new objections, and so we can help people think through difficult questions both from our experience and the experiences and thoughts of previous Christians. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know,” in response to a question. That is an opportunity to go do some research and meet with the person again.
  3. Volitional: The volitional barrier is caused by a bad nature; it is a barrier of being. Paul addresses this in 2 Corinthians 4, telling us it can only be overcome by prayer and the Holy Spirit.

Living Letters

The Holy Spirit helps us overcome all three of these barriers to the truth of the gospel, illuminating our hearts and conforming us to the image of Christ. However, having the truth does not mean life will be easy for us. As Paul writes, “we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves” (2 Corinthians 4:7). We will experience affliction as a result of the truth of the gospel, but this teaches us to have an eternal perspective in this temporal arena.

Paul was no stranger to adversity (see 2 Corinthians 11:16–33), but his perspective allowed him to not lose heart. But he knew that his identity was in Christ—this world will pass away, but Christ never will. As a result, we are “forever young.” The affliction we face, the death that waits, cannot compare with the glory to come.

This pilgrim life is temporary; the things that are seen will pass away. We should have a growing homesickness for our eternal home. The more we have this, the more we will recognize the precious present and the weight of our choice to walk in the world or by the Spirit. This perspective makes us “living letters” that proclaim the truth of the gospel.

This teaching is based on Ken’s Handbook to Scripture

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