An Epistle of Christ: Part 2

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2 Corinthians 3
II. It is good for our souls to dwell on what it is to be an epistle of Christ, though I am sure none of us can express the greatness of the calling. Any gathering of the saints is the epistle of Christ, “to be read of men.” They are His letter of recommendation to the world. The world needs to ascertain what Christ is from the lives of the saints; although they might learn it, it is true, from the word. And the great importance of this place of witness is brought out by the tacit contrast with the law, “written in tables of stone.” Just as the ten commandments were the declaration of the mind of God, under the dispensation of the law; so now the church is the engraving of Christ, “written, not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart,” to show forth the virtues of Him “who hath called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
I would refer to one great thing in the life of Christ, namely, that He never, in one simple act, word, or movement of His heart, did a single thing to please Himself. “Christ pleased not himself “; and so “we ought not to please ourselves “; for “none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.” Jesus said, “that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do.” This was obedience flowing out of love, and manifesting love. Nothing ever moved Him from that. The temptation to move from obedience to a commandment might come in a very subtle form, with all the ardor of affection; as when Peter said, in answer to the Lord's word about His sufferings and death, “This be far from thee, Lord.” It was affectionate in Peter; but the Lord would not own it, for this would have been to turn from the Father's commandment. And what does He answer? “Get thee behind me, Satan; thou art an offense unto me, for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”
Another thing I would remark. Not only was Jesus heavenly in His nature, but, as Son of man, He lived in heaven-as He said, “the Son of man which is in heaven.” The whole spirit of His mind, the tone of all His feelings and thoughts, was heavenly. So if there is any motive in my heart which I could not have if I were in heaven, I am not like Christ.
Again, all the grace that was in Him was brought out to meet man's sorrow and misery, and to bear on every earthly circumstance. In this we often find our failure. Even when the motive is right, the manner is wanting in graciousness. But it was never so with Christ. He was always seeking to promote the glory of God; but never did He in manner, on any occasion, depart from the spirit of grace. We often are not close enough in our communion with God to have confidence in Him. We become impatient, and resort to means that are not of God, as Jacob did, who had not confidence enough in God to say, “He will secure the blessing.” Would not God have made Isaac give the right answer? Surely He would. So we often fail by not waiting upon God, who will bring the thing to pass most surely, though we know not how. So it was in the sorrowful case of Saul. He would not wait; yet Samuel came at the end of seven days, and Saul lost the kingdom. And those who really are the children of God always sustain loss when they depart from confidence in Him. Christ was always trusting in God, and always waiting upon Him; and so He was ever ready for every sorrow and misery; ever ready to bring out the resources of God to meet every necessity. It is touching to read Matthew 5. Every beatitude is a lively portrait of Christ. Who so poor in spirit as Christ? Who mourned as Christ? Who so meek? so hungering and thirsting after righteousness? His whole life was hungering and thirsting after righteousness. “The life was the light of men.”
But, further, Jesus was the victorious man over all opposition, even though it were death itself. There is a great difference between good desires and power. The quickened soul may say, “O wretched man that I am “; but we cannot be the full epistle of Christ, unless we exhibit power over all obstacles—even over death. Death is given us. The believer, living in the power of Christ's life, has entire power over death.
J. N. D.....(To be continued)